The No. 10 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish will travel to Austin to take on the Texas Longhorns. It’s the only game on the Week 1 schedule for Sunday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 EST at Royal Texas Memorial Stadium and will be televised on ABC. Oddsmakers have Notre Dame listed as a 3.5-point favorite with the total set at 60 points.
These two teams played in South Bend to open up last season. The Irish put it on the Longhorns in a 38-3 blowout win at home. Easily covering the 9-point spread for that matchup. Notre Dame had a ridiculous 527 to 163 edge in total yards and 30-8 advantage in first downs.
Notre Dame finished up the 2015 season at 10-3. They were ever so close to a perfect 12-0 regular season. The Irish lost by 2-points at both Clemson and Stanford. The other defeat coming against Ohio State in their bowl game. Notre Dame will go into 2016 with just 9 starters back, but are a threat to make the playoffs given their schedule. It will be year number seven under head coach Brian Kelly.
The loss to the Irish was part of an ugly 1-4 start to last season for the Longhorns. The most embarrassing defeat came in a 0-24 loss at Iowa State, who finished just 3-9. On the flip side, Texas had two wins over Top 25 teams. They stunned No. 10 Oklahoma 24-17 in the Red River Rivalry and won at No. 12 Baylor in the season finale. The Longhorns have 15 starters back and will be in the 3rd year under Charlie Strong.
Early Lean on Texas +3.5
As excepted, the betting public is all over Notre Dame. They just see last year’s result and gladly lay the small number on the road. I wouldn’t be so fast to back the Irish in this one.
Notre Dame is always hyped coming into the season and even more so off a good year. I’m not saying they won’t be a good team, but I think they are way overvalued at No. 10 in the country.
Sure the Irish have two really good quarterbacks in DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire. Kelly has said he’s going to play both and I just don’t see that being a good thing. Just look at Ohio State last year with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones splitting snaps. It just makes it that much harder to form chemistry. Each quarterback is also playing with a ton of pressure, as they don’t want to lose their job.
Notre Dame also lost a lot of last year’s team. That includes star running back C.J. Prosise and wide out Will Fuller. They also lost 3 starters on the o-line and won’t be as good up front. Defensively they have just 5 starters back. The biggest loss being linebacker Jaylon Smith. He would have been a Top 10 NFL draft pick if not for the knee injury suffered against Ohio State in the bowl.
On the flip side of this, I think Texas is a program on the rise and 2016 will be the year Strong gets them back on track. Poor quarterback play has plagued the Longhorns over recent years. I believe that’s about to change. While a starter hasn’t been named, all signs point to true freshman Shane Buechele.
Buechele is a highly touted dual-threat signal caller, who I think would be a major upgrade over Tyrone Swoops. It’s also worth noting that Texas will be opening things up more in 2016. That coming from new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert. He helped Tulsa’s offense average more than 500 ypg last year. He’s also known for his time with Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois.
On top of that, Texas should have their best o-line in the Strong era. They also have one of the most talented backfield in the country with Chris Warren and Jerrod Heard. The defense was a liability last year, but should be greatly improved.
You also can’t ignore the revenge factor. Texas is going to come out with a chip on their shoulder after getting embarrassed last year. Notre Dame on the other hand could struggle to take the Longhorns seriously.