Notre Dame and Texas will be playing the only game of the day on Sunday, a second straight season-opener in which last year the Fighting Irish crushed the Longhorns 38-3 . The 10th-ranked Fighting Irish improve on their 10-3 record from 2015. For the Longhorns, this is the year they need to start exhibiting some solid improvement. Head Coach Charlie Strong is entering his third year with the University of Texas, and for every potential loss that may occur, a replacement will look better and better.
The most interesting storyline with the Irish is definitely their quarterback competition. Head Coach Brian Kelly will let veterans DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire split duties for the 2016 campaign. Both Zaire and Kizer have played and played very well for the Irish as starters, with Kizer taking over for Zaire after he suffered a season ending leg injury in 2015.
One of the biggest problems a team faces with a quarterback rotation is continuity for the rest of the offense. A two-quarterback system isn’t necessarily doomed from the start. It certainly takes an awful lot of cooperation from everyone involved to make it work. Whichever one can best connect with this young wide receiving corps will likely be the one that Kelly eventually turns the keys over to.
The new offensive coordinator Steven Gilbert will be bringing his up tempo spread offense from Tulsa with him. Although Strong has yet to make an official announcement between starting Shane Buechele and Tyrone Swoopes. It seems that the freshman Buechele could be getting the nod. This due to Swoopes inability to command the position the last two years. If Buechele does get the start against Notre Dame, he will become the first true freshman to start for the Longhorns since Bobby Layne in 1944.
Texas was ranked 83rd nationally in points per game at 26.4 last year and really had trouble throwing the football. They were 118th nationally in passing yards per game. Gilbert’s offense at Tulsa was 11th in passing yards per game, which should definitely boost their efficiency. However, no matter who the Longhorns go with at quarterback, major improvements need to be made on the offensive side of the ball if they hope to avenge their loss to Notre Dame at South Bend last year.
This is the 12th meeting between the two programs. The Irish have a 9-2 advantage in the series and have won all four games in Austin. They have also won the last five meetings.