Date: Sunday, September 4
Game Time: 7:30 pm ET
Venue: Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX
College football is back, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish kick off their 2016 season with a primetime showdown against the Texas Longhorns.
These two teams go head-to-head for the second year in a row. In the 2015 meeting, the Irish routed the Longhorns 38-3. Irish quarterback Malik Zaire threw for 313 passing yards and the Irish recorded 214 rushing yards as a team.
This year, the Fighting Irish will enter Sunday’s contest as the AP No. 10 in the country. Meanwhile, the Longhorns are unranked, but many people feel they will return to Top 25 prominence this year.
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Both sides enter the season with interesting quarterback situations. Notre Dame has not decided on a true No. 1 quarterback. They plan to play both of their experienced quarterbacks Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Texas has their own quarterback dilemma. Last year’s quarterback Jerrod Heard switched to receiver this offseason. Conventional wisdom suggests senior Tyrone Swoopes will start, but freshman Shane Buechele has looked very good in preseason practices.
Notre Dame probably has the edge at quarterback, but a lot of analysts and writers still think the Longhorns will pull off the upset. Texas has a lot of talent on their roster, and people believe their talent surpasses Notre Dame’s talent.
On the ground, both programs are loaded at running back. Both teams have very good running backs who gash through opponents’ defenses and create big plays.
Notre Dame has Tarean Folston and Josh Adams to lead their rushing attack. Folston began the 2015 season as the Irish’s top running back, but an ACL tear ended his his season. Adams was the Irish’s big play threat in 2015. Also, Kizer and Zaire are running threats.
The Longhorns have D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren III to lead them. Both guys averaged more than 6.5 yards per carry in 2015. Also, Swoopes is a running threat and was used as a runner is short yardage plays.
On defense, both sides were very inconsistent in 2015; albeit for different reasons. The Fighting Irish’s defense struggled at times because of injuries. The Longhorns’ defense struggled to adjust to head coach Charlie Strong‘s new system.
Overall, the Irish’s defense was still considerable better than the Longhorn’s’ defense last year. people should expect that trend to continue when these two teams meet Sunday.
The Longhorn’s may have replenished their defensive unit, but their defense was ranked outside the Top 100 in 2015. It is hard to imagine Texas’ defense jumping into the Top 50, where Notre Dame was, in one season.
This game will be much closer than last season’s contest. However, the end result will be the same: a Notre Dame Fighting Irish victory.
The quarterback position has a huge influence over game in college football. The Irish have a clear edge at quarterback over the Longhorns. As a result, Notre Dame should come away with a Week 1 win.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Texas 24