The 2015 college football season opening weekend kicks off with a marquee Saturday evening game featuring the Texas Longhorns of the Big-12 traveling to Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN to take on the host and 11th ranked Fighting Irish of Notre Dame at 7:30 pm EST. Texas finished 6-7 a season ago in their first campaign under new head coach Charlie Strong, concluding their season with a 31-7 loss to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl. Notre Dame finished a disappointing 8-5 last season after starting the year off strong with a 6-0 record. They did finish the year off in style with an exciting 31-28 win over LSU in the Music City Bowl.
The Fighting Irish return 19 starters including an outstanding offensive line led by left tackle Ronnie Stanley and a defense led by All-American candidate Jaylon Smith. They will be featuring a new face under center this season, as Malik Zaire, who started against LSU in the bowl game, replaces turnover prone Everett Golson. Expect the Irish to feature the running game heavily this season with the mobile Zaire and a very strong unit up front.
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Texas returns a solid defense, but they have plenty of question marks on the offensive side of the ball coming into this season. Under center the Longhorns figure to start Tyrone Swoopes again this season, Swoopes has the size, arm strength and athletic ability that hint that he could be an exciting player, but has yet to show that he can be a consistent threat throwing the football. he figures to be on a short leash this season, and redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard could certainly see action as well. Senior running back Jonathan Gray is one of the few proven commodities on offense for UT, and he will have to have a big game here for Texas to have any shot to pull off the upset.
Texas vs. Notre Dame Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Texas Longhorns +10
@Notre Dame Fighting Irish -10
Over 50.5 (-110)
Under 50.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Texas vs. Notre Dame Pick:
Texas is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games, and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.Notre Dame is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall. The under is 5-1 in Texas’ last 6 road games, 4-1 in their last 5 non-conference games and 16-5 in their last 21 games overall. The over is 6-0 in ND’s last 6 games overall, 5-0 in their last 5 games on grass and 4-1 in their last 5 September games.
The Fighting Irish have huge advantage over Texas in terms of experience, Texas does not have any proven playmakers on offense and unless Swoopes has made huge strides since the end of last season, they will struggle to score against a tough ND defense with their one-dimensional, run-based attack. The total is a tempting play here, as the combination of two unproven QBs and two strong to very-strong defenses make an early season low-scoring affair a strong possibility. The call here is to lay the 10 points though as Notre Dame should come ready to play under the lights, and Swoopes or Heard, whoever the Longhorns have under center will struggle, and that will be the difference in the game. Take Notre Dame here.