OK, UGA fans, you have three years to program the address of Notre Dame’s home football stadium in South Bend, Ind., into your GPS and/or smartphone.
The recent announcement that the Bulldogs and Fighting Irish will go home-and-home for two games beginning in 2017 marks something of a milestone for the Georgia program. A quick check of football records on Georgiadogs.com shows that the 2017 game at Notre Dame apparently will be the Dawgs’ first in a so-called Midwest stadium since the 1960s.
With geographic rivalries and Southeastern Conference mandates, the Bulldogs have never had to go far for competition. Still, there were trips to Tempe, Ariz., (2008) and Boulder, Colo., (2010) in recent years, for purposes of national exposure.
But Georgia’s victory at Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1965 (Vince Dooley’s second season as coach) is the only instance of true northern exposure on record. (Technically, Michigan and Indiana are in the Midwest, but I get the feeling such areas are regarded as “north” by many in Georgia.)
For the football teams, it’s all about recruiting and TV exposure (of course, those are intertwined). Recruits know that no matter where they play, their games will be viewed on some channel. So teams have to stick their necks out to get more than just routine coverage. And these Bulldogs-Irish games likely will get national coverage.
There is no BCS any more, thankfully. With a new playoff system kicking in this season, college football teams now have a greater chance at a so-called national title. So that means they will work harder for opponents that will boost their schedule strength and voter appeal (yes, voting by human beings still will be a factor).
Cold-weather gear won’t be necessary. The 2017 game in South Bend will be in September. However, some extra Southern hospitality might be in order in 2019 when the Irish visit Sanford Stadium. Apparently, not since 1976 (the U. of California) has a team come so far to play Between the Hedges. Do grits and cabbage mix?
And the most important factor: The games will be fun.
(Disclosure: I’m a University of Georgia graduate.)
— What do you think about the coming Georgia-Notre Dame games? Leave a comment below.