If you’re the Texas Longhorns, you couldn’t have some up with more terrible memories than the loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that took place last season. Well, the ‘Horns have more talent than at any point in Charlie Strong’s tenure as head coach, and so they believe they can exact a little revenge and gain some confidence for the program at the same time, as these teams commence the 2016 campaign at Memorial Stadium in Austin, kicking off at 8 PM ET on Sunday.
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The Longhorns have finished a disappointing 6-7 and 5-7 in Strong’s two years in the #1 position, after succeeding Mack Brown. But in his third year, he should be playing with a lot of his own recruits. He also lucked into some of them. A case in point is receiver Devin Duvernay, who was the Texas high school champion in the 100 meters, and also the #3-rated wideout prospect in the country. He originally committed to Baylor, but wanted out when their sexual assault scandal broke. And when the school failed to submit his paperwork to the Big 12 in time, he was freed from his commitment. That’s when Strong grabbed him.
In the football odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, the Fighting Irish lay points on the road:
Strong, at last look, was still undecided as to who was going to get the start at quarterback for his team, but there is a pretty good chance that both Tyrone Swoopes, who has time in the system, and freshman hotshot Shane Buechele will both hit the field. Buechele is a two-time all-state selection who lives in Arlington, where his father Steve is employed as bench coach with the Texas Rangers. And Rangers’ manager Jeff Banister has practically ordered his sidekick to go to Austin and attend his son’s debut.
Notre Dame’s QB dilemma is different. They have TWO people who are capable, and one of them, Malik Zaire, tore up the Longhorns in last year’s 38-3 drubbing, completing 19 of 22 passes for 313 yards. Zaire’s injury in the next game forced coach Brian Kelly to go with redshirt freshman DeShone Kizer, who was not flawless but very good, throwing for 2884 yards. Kelly was expected to choose between one or the other, but announced that he’ll be going with both quarterbacks in this game. That did surprise the press that covers the team, and it may have shocked some of the BetAnySports audience.
Kelly and the Irish did a great job of replacing people who were injured last year, and this season they have to make up for the losses of safety Max Redfield, who was tossed from the team, along with WR Corey Robinson (NBA great David’s son), who left football due to concussions. They also welcome back Jarron Jones, the outstanding nose tackle who missed almost all of last season with a torn MCL.
Notre Dame also saw quite a bit of talent leave for the pros. Seven of the first 103 picks in the NFL Draft played their college ball in South Bend. That includes speedy wide receiver Will Fuller and linebacker and Butkus Award winner Jaylon Smith. Keep in mind that even with several second-teamers on defense, as well as freshman QB and substitute tailbacks, Notre Dame got to within two points of eventual national runner-up Clemson, as well as Stanford, where they lost on a field goal with seconds remaining, Don’t underestimate them.
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