TEXAS WINS IF...
they put on a dominant rushing performance. With uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Longhorns will have to heavily lean on their running game. Lucky for Texas, they have two backs that are capable of carrying the offense.
Junior D’Onta Foreman and sophomore Chris Warren III combined for 712 yards over the final four games of last season, and are the types of physical backs that can wear down a defense. The duo will be running behind an improved offensive line that helped lead Texas to the third best rushing attack in the Big 12 last season.
In last year’s matchup with the Irish, Texas was nearly doubled up in time of possession and was outgained by over 150 yards on the ground. If the Longhorns can reverse these trends, control the line of scrimmage, and slow down the game, then they have a great shot at coming away with a win.
Defensively, the Longhorns must slow down the vaunted rushing attack of the Irish. Last season, Notre Dame averaged more than 200 yards on the ground, and shredded the Texas defense for 214 yards. With Notre Dame having their own share of quarterback uncertainties, they will also be heavily reliant on the run game. If Texas can clog up the rushing lanes early and force Notre Dame to throw, the Longhorns have the talent in the secondary to cause problems for a young Irish receiving corps.
TEXAS LOSES IF...
The Irish can strike first and build a lead early. The matchup with Notre Dame is one of the most anticipated of the season for the Longhorns, and a sold-out Darrell K. Royal is sure to be rocking come game time. If the Irish can come right out of the gate, make a few stops and score a few touchdowns, this will go a long way in seizing the momentum and quieting the crowd.
With Texas being so reliant on the run, an early deficit would turn them away from their game plan and put pressure on their quarterbacks.
If the game turns into a battle of quarterbacks, then the advantage definitely goes towards Notre Dame. Both quarterbacks in the Irish’s dual system have experience playing in big games. In 2014, senior quarterback Malik Zaire helped propel the Irish to an upset victory over LSU in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowland junior quarterback DeShone Kizer led Notre Dame to the cusp of qualifying for the College Football Playoff last year.
Although no starting quarterback has been announced for the longhorns, both options are wildcards. Freshman Shane Buechele has yet to play a collegiate game, and senior Tyrone Swoopes has been erratic over his career with the Longhorns.
If the Irish can generate enough offense and force Texas to play catchup with their quarterbacks, then they should be able to take home a win.