A closer look at last year's upset contests provides some context on what Notre Dame can't do. In the Auburn win, Georgia Tech was plus-four in the turnover margin. As a team last year, the Irish were plus-10 in the same category. In the Hurricane victory, the Yellow Jackets flustered opposing quarterback Kyle Wright into a 14-of-31 performance for 207 yards and one interception performance. Wright was a sophomore in that game. Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn is an experienced senior coming off a 32-touchdown, 3,900 yard passing season. Quinn will need all his attributes on Saturday night to deal with an aggressive and attacking Georgia Tech defense.
A final note on this: the Yellow Jackets are just 2-6 vs. top-10 opponents in season openers. They have lost three in a row and haven't been victorious since the 1981 opener. On that day, Georgia Tech beat No. 4 Alabama 24-21.
*The big stat last year was second quarter scoring. Notre Dame outscored their opponents 145-47 in the second 15-minute frame. In the 2005 opener, the Irish outscored Pittsburgh 28-3 in the second quarter to take a 35-10 halftime lead, effectively ending the game. The Panthers had no idea what hit them. Georgia Tech last year got outscored 77-54 in the second quarter.
*Four starters return on the offensive line for the Yellow Jackets. The other starter is Mansfield Wrotto, who stands at 6-3 and 310 pounds. Wrotto comes over to the offensive from the defensive line, where he spent the first three years of his college career. The senior totaled 32 starts on that side of the ball. Now, in his first game at right tackle, Wrotto will have to deal with Notre Dame's Victor Abiamiri. The Irish have made it a point of emphasis to get a better pass rush. Abiamiri led the team in sacks last year with eight. Many are expecting even a bigger year from the Irish senior. This could be a chance to get the year out to a big start.
*Here are some of head coach Charlie Weis's best comments during the Georgia Tech game week:
*On Calvin Johnson: "Well, he's big and fast. It's one thing if you're just fast, okay? When you're big and fast and athletic, it's the trifecta now. So it isn't just the speed that you worry about, it's the size you worry about. I mean, when you're playing with a corner against him, your corner is 5'10," he's 6'5", I mean, it's a problem."
*On Travis Thomas's progress up to this point: "Well, when you make that move, you hope he gets beat out, because I wouldn't make that move and put him second and take away one of my top runners and just give him to the defense. I'm not into giving away a charity player. I always argue with Rick (Minter) about that. I'm not looking to give away offensive players. So when I put him over there, the deal was I'm going to put him over there, you put him first until somebody can beat him out. No one could beat him out. That says a lot about how Travis handled this.
"People want to make a lot of a guy not having played there since high school, but in reality, you know, that's up to us as coaches to put in a system that allows him to make sure he knows what to do so he can go out there and play.
"Of course, in camp it's just us against us. So far, so good."
*On going up against a Jon Tenuta defense: "Well, first of all, they have a great scheme. They have a lot of confidence in both their scheme and their players. I think a lot of defense is when your players know what to do and can do it at a high level -- I mean, he's had success for a long time here now. I'm not the only one who is saying good things about John, okay? We can talk about blitz zoning, bringing pressure, which I know is part of his personality. But the bottom line is they have a good scheme and they play it well."
*On not letting the freshmen, most notably starting right tackle Sam Young, not talk to the media: "After they've been playing for a while and they've done something, then I'll let them talk. I'm not trying to hide him (Young). We haven't even played a game yet. He's been anointed hero because he's playing. I mean, when he has been playing for a while and we've had a chance to evaluate how he's doing, he's going to stay in this playing, then I'll make him available. I'm not trying to hide him from anyone. We haven't even played a game yet.
"You have to remember, this is a kid that just came from high school, now is getting ready to go start on national TV for his first game. I think part of your job as the head coach is to help protect him some. If, in fact, he settles in there and ends up being the guy in there, then I think you go ahead and make him available.
"I think right now that's the last thing he needs, is more distractions as he's just worrying about trying to block these guys he's going up against, which is a tall enough task I believe."
*On the defense wanting to atone for last year's Fiesta Bowl performance: "It's no big secret how the season ended. It leaves a really bad taste in your mouth. When you had what everyone considered a half-way decent year and you walk off the field with a team getting 617 yards against you, seriously, that's not the way you want to end the year. So you have to live with that the whole off-season. The whole off-season is remembered by what happened in the last game. No one remembers really too much about what happened in the early games, it's how the season ends. So I think they have had a lot of time to reflect on that and they worked really hard and let's see if that hard work and the tweaks in the system and the hard work by all these guys pay dividends. I think they're counting on it and so am I."
*On facing a dual threat quarterback now as opposed to later in the year: "I would rather face him first, if that's what you're saying. I think this would be even a tougher task if you faced them right in the middle of the year. I'll give you an example. Like when you play Navy, all of a sudden, it's in the middle of the year and you play Navy and that offense that they run; not many teams run that. And when you get one week to get ready for an offense like that, it's quite challenging. So in this case, when you have a top-line wide receiver, you've got quality depth at running back, you have some big bodies at tight end and fullback, and you've got a veteran offensive line, you have an elusive quarterback as a dual threat, it's never good, but it's better to do it now when you have all the extra time to scheme things rather than if you just had a regular 20-hour work week."
***Prediction: Notre Dame 38 Georgia Tech 20.