The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame face a very difficult season opening challenge when they travel to Bobby Dodd Stadium to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on September 2nd at 8:00 p.m. in a nationally televised game.
Georgia Tech is coming off of a 7-4 record and an invitation to the Emerald Bowl where they lost to Utah 38-10. Tech was 5-3 in the ACC and defeated both Auburn and Miami. The big 14-10 win over the Hurricanes came on the road, and came at a time when Miami was ranked number three in the country. Last season marked the ninth straight winning season and ninth straight bowl appearance for the Yellow Jackets.
Chan Gailey begins his fifth season at the helm. The former Dallas Cowboys coach had Georgia Tech in the national rankings for nine weeks in 2005, despite the fact that the Jackets played one of the toughest schedules in the country. Georgia Tech boasts a big time star in All-American wide receiver Calvin Johnson, a 6-4 235 lb. junior from Tyrone, Georgia, who caught 54 passes for 888 yards and 6 touchdowns a year ago. The Jackets, who return 15 starters from 2005, also featured one of the top defenses in the nation in 2005.
The Georgia Tech defense may face their toughest test of the year, however, when they are forced to contend with the Fighting Irish offense, which is led by senior quarterback and Heisman trophy candidate Brady Quinn.
Quinn and the Irish feature a big, experienced offensive line, junior running back Darius Walker, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2005 and an All-American wide receiver of their own in Jeff Samardzija. Head coach Charlie Weis guided the Irish to a 9-3 record and to a ninth place ranking in the polls in his first season, and the Irish have set their sights on nothing less than a national title in 2006.
Everybody is taking about the resurgence of Notre Dame, and their return to prominence. There is excitement in the air. The Fighting Irish must be careful, however, not to look past the Yellow Jackets and must guard against taking them too lightly, especially on the road. One slip, in front of a national audience, could be costly. Charlie Weis will have the Irish ready to focus on the tough task at hand on Saturday night, September 2nd.