Georgia-Notre Dame game of 2017 ignited both programs

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart had a 9-5 record entering the 2017 game at Notre Dame and has been 26-5 since. / Georgia photo by Perry McIntyre

ATHENS, Ga. - It's rare that the same game can serve as a launching point for both teams, but Georgia's 20-19 victory over Notre Dame in South Bend two years ago seems to have done just that.

"It impacted our program a lot," Bulldogs senior defensive end David Marshall said this week. "It gave us the confidence knowing that we won a big game. We got together and were like, 'We've got this,' and we started practicing that much harder and pushed each other to become a better team."

The two storied programs will vie again Saturday night inside Sanford Stadium.

Georgia entered the 2017 season with a veteran team coming off two shaky years that sandwiched the coaching transition from Mark Richt to Kirby Smart. The last of Richt's 15 seasons with the Bulldogs included humiliating losses to Alabama and Florida by the combined count of 65-13, and Smart's debut in 2016 contained home losses to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech and a season-ending trip to the Liberty Bowl.