Game Prediction

Ah yes, football season is back and that means it's time for another Mike Frank prediction. The Irish head to Georgia Tech this weekend and I think I've got the inside skinny on how the game will eventually unfold. Will the Irish leave Atlanta with a victory?

Calvin Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Calvin Johnson. If I'm Ambrose Wooden and Mike Richardson I'm having nightmares about covering Calvin Johnson. At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, as the saying goes: "You can't stop him. You can only hope to contain him."

Calvin Johnson is going to get his yards, and maybe even a touchdown or two, but Notre Dame's best bet to win this game is to stop everyone else, including elusive quarterback Reggie Ball.

Many Irish fans are convinced the Irish will roll in this game and blow out the Yellow Jackets. Not so fast my friend.

Doesn't it seem like some good players always look like legends when they play Notre Dame? Tyler Palko, Drew Stanton and Troy Smith immediately come to mind. For whatever reason, a number of players usually rise to the occasion and play the game of their lives against Notre Dame.

That is what scares me in this game.

If, for some reason, Ball plays the game of his life, the Irish could be in trouble.

The good news is Reggie Ball has scored just nine rushing touchdowns in his three-year career as a starter at Georgia Tech—four all last season. Troy Smith had 11 rushing touchdowns last season alone. That should give you some comparison. But Troy Smith didn't score a single rushing touchdown against Notre Dame. He just converted a lot of third downs with his feet—something Ball can do as well.

Ball isn't a very accurate passer (48 percent, 11 TD, 12 INT last season) compared to Troy Smith (63 percent, 16 TD, 4 INT), but for some reason, this game scares me. Why? Seniors usually play their best during final season and Reggie Ball aint talking to the media. He's mad and I don't like the sound of that, either.

At some point the light just flips on and players rise to the occasion. Sometimes something needs to spark the change…..say maybe a new offensive coordinator. All I know is Troy Smith wasn't the same we guy we saw in the Fiesta Bowl when playing in 2004. Michael Robinson wasn't the same dynamic player before 2005. Brady Quinn wasn't Brady Quinn before 2005. Vince Young wasn't Vince Young before 2005.

Yes, I worry that Ball will play a heck of a game and making this game much closer than many Irish fans expect.

The Irish will struggle at times against this defense. Their front seven could be as strong as any team the Irish this entire season.

Quinn & co. will get loose and the Irish will score points, I'm thinking around 31 of them, against an inexperienced secondary.

The important question is how many Georgia Tech will score?

I still have nightmares of seeing Troy Smith scrambling for first downs in third-and-nine situations. I see two inexperienced outside linebackers on Notre Dame's side of the ball. I see trouble ahead.

In the end, the Irish will make the plays necessary on both sides of the ball and pull out the victory, but I don't think they'll win a lot of style points in this game. It should be a hard-fought victory, but a victory none-the-less.

Mike Frank Prediction

Notre Dame 31 Georgia Tech 21

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