Two of the most storied programs in college football history, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Texas Longhorns, get their seasons started in a rematch of last year. Notre Dame and Texas will meet for the second consecutive year, after not playing since 1995 and 1996. Notre Dame won those two games, and are poised to take another two from Texas in this mini-series. The Fighting Irish enter as 3.5 points favorites, so the odds makers have them accomplishing the sweep.
Maybe it’ll be a bit closer than last season, where Notre Dame demolished Texas in South Bend by a score of 38-3. The Longhorns never got into a rhythm, finishing with a record of 5-7 on the season. They did, however, win their rivalry games against Oklahoma. It was the only loss for the Sooners, and it was the only reason for Texas to celebrate in 2015.
It hoped to be a springboard into the remaining games on the schedule, but they went 3-3 with wins against Kansas State, Kansas, and Baylor. The final win of the season against Baylor was something for them to get excited about coming into this season. Head coach Charlie Strong has to start producing results. The win against Oklahoma was nice, but they need to start looking at where they were when Vince Young and Colt McCoy were running the show. Texas hasn’t been able to reach those same heights and it’s becoming frustrated.
Charlie Strong is going to be on the hot seat if they don’t get the job done in 2016. 8 wins looks like a sizable step forward, but there comes a point where improvements have to be made. They need to follow in the footsteps of the University of Michigan, who were a team lost without a paddle, and are now looking at competing for the playoff this season.
Notre Dame was eyeing the college football playoff last season, but a 38-36 loss to Stanford ultimately did them in. They went toe-to-toe with Clemson early in the season, a respectable 24-22 loss, which came back to look like a very good loss. So, Notre Dame were a combined 4 points away from going undefeated Ohio State blew them out in their bowl game, 44-28, where they didn’t appear to be excited to be at.
Texas has been searching for a quarterback to follow in the footsteps of Vince Young or Colt McCoy. It hasn’t been the case. Tyrone Swoopes came in with plenty of hype, but hasn’t become a reliable starter. The few successes that Texas has had is because of the defense, not the offense. Texas has yet to announce their starting quarterback for Week 1. We will find out before kickoff.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Texas Longhorns NCAAF Betting Odds:
Notre Dame -3.5(-110)
vs. Texas +3.5(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Notre Dame vs. Texas Pick:
Texas will lean on their defense once again in 2016. I don’t see their offense taking any major steps forward. I have seen enough of Swoopes to know what he brings to the table. Reports out of came have indicated that Swoopes and Shane Buechele have had looked good at times, and then they’ve had setbacks as well. Yeah, that sounds about right with this offense. However, freshman Buechele has lots of promise, and may be the quarterback to take Texas back to competing.
The Longhorns ranked near the bottom of the BIG 12 in offense, but their efforts on defense have been solid. In particular, the secondary was strong for Texas, and it’s going to be strong again in 2016 with some key players returning. The Longhorns were 3rd in the conference against the pass, with TCU and Oklahoma ahead of them. Texas might be able to take over the top spot in 2016.
The Longhorns more than likely will have to contend with two quarterbacks in this game. In all actuality, we may see four quarterbacks take snaps between the two schools. DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire are heading into the season in a dead heat for the starting job. Just like Texas, the starter is an unknown. Both of them should get into the mix throughout the season. Notre Dame will have a strong running back to support them, but somebody will have to step up in the passing game. Torii Hunter Jr. figures to be the leading receiver on the team, after just 363 yards and two touchdowns last season. Like I said, the secondary is the strength of Texas. I expect Notre Dame to rely on the running attack in this matchup.
The weakness of the Notre Dame defense will be on the backend in the secondary. Up front, they should continue to dominate the trenches. They should be able to put pressure on the freshman and Swoopes. Even then, do you think that they are going to be able to exploit the Notre Dame secondary?
I had an awful opening Saturday in college football. A 1-4 start, which equates to the worst start I have had to a season. It was a crazy, wacky day, but I am definitely looking back at games I should have played, that I didn’t (Cough SMU, Nebraska and Tulsa). I was high on all three of those teams during the last two months and for some reason shied away in the end. Today we look to get some of it back with a win in this game, the only day of the game. The UNDER in the USC/Alabama game was a rather unfortunate beat, but we’re coming back tonight to regroup. The total is too high here. It should be a good, close game, but not one that produces a ton of points. I am leaning on the UNDER for Sunday.
PICK: UNDER 59.5 POINTS (-110)