ATHENS Kirby Smart knows an opportunity when he sees one, and he's hoping his Georgia team responds with the nation looking on in Saturday night's prime-time college football matchup.
"It's our turn to go on the national stage," Smart said on ESPN's GameDay set Saturday morning, "and put Georgia to the forefront again."
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (3-0) play host to No. 7 Notre Dame (2-0) at 8 p.m. at Sanford Stadium (TV: CBS). It's the first non-conference matchup of Top 10 ranked teams since 1966.
Smart said the spotlight gives the University of Georgia as well as the football program an opportunity to showcase itself, when asked the biggest advantage to playing a game like this.
"I think the national stages, and the advantage you gain by having an opportunity to put our program, our campus, on display," Smart said. "And also, to affect the rest of college football, and know you're going to get a chance to play on the biggest stage there is.
"These games are why you come to Georgia, and when you have two programs like these two playing, our team is excited, their team is excited, the fans are excited, it's what college football is all about."
Former Bulldogs stars Champ Bailey and Knowshon Moreno were also shown on the College GameDay show Saturday. The cast regularly includes Georgia football legend David Pollack and former UGA volleyball standout Maria Taylor.
Notre Dame has lost 10 straight games against Top 10-ranked competition entering Saturday night's clash, and Irish coach Brian Kelly is 0-4 against Top 5 competition.
But Smart gained respect for the Irish in Georgia's 20-19 win in South Bend in 2017.
"They're extremely physical, they're never going to go away, they do a great job of competing," Smart said. "Every time you play them, you know you're up against a legend as well as their team."
Smart said on his radio show this week that he enjoyed making appearances on ESPN and the SEC Network, recognizing the value it brings the Georgia brand.
"I really enjoy it, I think it's great exposure for our program, it's a great opportunity for recruiting," Smart said. "I enjoy the people on the set. I've gotten to know them through all the years that I've been coaching."
Smart said his Georgia players have had an enthusiastic week of practice leading up to the game.
"Lot of energy and enthusiasm out there on he practice field, and sometimes this week you've got to say whoa, you have to take the reins and pull them back a little bit," Smart said.
Smart said it has been a big week for himself and his coaches, too.
"You kind of live and coach for these opportunities, this is a big stage," Smart said. "We know we'll have a national audience, and we'll have great exposure for both programs."
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