Georgia outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter stated before this season that winning a championship was the primary reason he returned for his senior year.
There also was a lesser-known factor that swayed his choice.
"I knew we would be making this trip to South Bend," Carter told reporters Saturday night, "and I wanted to be a part of it."
Carter not only made the trip but arguably stole the show as the Bulldogs prevailed 20-19 inside Notre Dame Stadium. The 6-foot-6, 250-pounder from the Atlanta suburb of Norcross made a living in the Irish backfield, tallying seven tackles, four quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a sack.
His fumble recovery at Notre Dame's 25-yard line with 1:27 remaining in the game sealed Georgia's triumph in the program's first trip north of the Mason-Dixon line since a 1965 win at Michigan.
"People don't realize that Lorenzo is not playing his natural position," Bulldogs second-year coach Kirby Smart said. "Lorenzo has stepped up and allowed us to play with only four DBs. His value is that he can play in space, and it reminds me when Leonard (Floyd) was here, because you've got to account for that guy rushing and account for that guy dropping back.
"He plays with tremendous toughness. He plays on two special teams. He plays every snap on defense. It's really kind of amazing that he doesn't get tired."
The Southeastern Conference on Monday tabbed Carter as its defensive player of the week.
Carter and fellow senior outside linebacker Davin Bellamy announced their decisions to return to school last December in a news conference that also included the tailback tandem of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. It was Bellamy who sacked Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush and caused the fumble Carter pounced on to ice the triumph.
"Coming off the edge, I saw my brother on the other side coming free," Carter said. "I knew I had to get ready for a hit and to make a play."
Bellamy finished with six tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and the monstrous caused fumble. When asked about the Bellamy-Carter duo and their effectiveness Saturday night, Smart said, "I thought they were more of a factor in this game than they were in any game last year."
Georgia's defense racked up nine tackles for loss against the Irish and held them to 55 yards on 37 carries (1.5 yards per rush), which was their worst rushing output since 2011. Notre Dame shredded Temple for 422 rushing yards in its opening game, but the Bulldogs were coming off a stellar defensive performance against Appalachian State, when they held the Mountaineers to 89 rushing yards through three quarters on Sept. 2.
That the Bulldogs have faced two run-heavy teams and are allowing just 95.5 rushing yards per game is certainly a positive for Smart, second-year defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and the players involved. Another plus for Georgia is the fact Notre Dame's final three possessions Saturday night netted just 15 yards.
"It's all coming together," Carter said, breaking into a smile. "It's my senior year. It's time to do work."
Staying at night
Georgia is hosting Samford this Saturday night and will play its fourth consecutive night game next week, when the Bulldogs host Mississippi State. Next week's contest will be televised by ESPN with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.