Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Texas Longhorns (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 4th, 7:30pm
Where: Royal Texas Memorial Stadium - Austin, Texas
by Bob, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ND -3.5 / TEX +3.5
Over/Under Total: 60
After all the smoke clears from the great games we get to witness on Saturday, we have no time to relax because on Sunday night at 7:30pm, two of the most storied programs in college football history will face off in yet another amazing week one match up.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will invade Texas Memorial Stadium to take on the Longhorns. Notre Dame enters the season as the 10th ranked team in the AP Poll while Texas needs a couple of good wins to get themselves in the top 25. This series dates all the way back to November of 1913 yet this will only be the 12th time these two played all time and only the 9th time in the regular season. Notre Dame has only gone 9-2 against Texas, but they have won five straight including a 38-3 thrashing just last season. Will Charlie Strong and the Longhorns finally get back into the national spotlight this season? I don't know, but a win over the Irish in week one sure would help.
The line opens with the Fighting Irish as a 3.5 road favorite over Texas and the total points are set at 60 combined. It appears the books think this will be a shootout. With just a few days left til kickoff, most of the action is on Notre Dame to cover the spread. 57% of the betting public likes the Irish to cover and as for the total points, 63% like the game to stay under the 60 points. As I mentioned earlier, the line as we speak is 3.5 in favor of the Irish but if the public keeps pounding them, I could see this being 4-4.5 points by kick off on Sunday. If you like the Irish, and no, I am not saying that is my prediction, but if it is your pick...bet it now to get the better value.
Notre Dame is getting a lot of love in the polls before the season even starts, they are ranked 10th in the AP and overall, Notre Dame dodged a lot of bullets on the schedule. The Irish have been playing "in the ACC" for a few years now, but due to politics, NBC contracts, etc, in the sport of football, the Irish are still "independent" so they do not actually compete for the ACC title, they just play a few ACC teams a year which is complete trash if you ask me. Not only that, in 2016, the Irish were able to avoid Florida State, North Carolina, and Clemson...which are the three big dogs in the ACC this season. Instead, they get to play NC State, Miami, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech. None of these teams are even close to being serious contenders this season. The big tests for Notre Dame this season will be the games against Michigan State, Stanford, and USC. These are the three games that a loss would not be shocking, other than that, the Irish SHOULD be favored in each game. However, on paper that is how things should play out, but lets not look past this game against Texas just yet. The Texas Longhorns fanbase and alumni are tired of not being in contention for a national title, hell, they haven' even been in the mix for a Big 12 title in quite sometime. Notre Dame does not want this game to be the one that gets the Horns back on track. The key to this game for Notre Dame will all come down to the trenches. Can the offensive line and defensive line hold up against the Longhorns? Texas will be lining up and running the ball over and over and over...or at least they should. The Longhorns are breaking in a new quarterback and I have a feeling that the coaching staff of Texas is not ready for this kid to just start airing it out.
On the offensive side of the ball, I can see the Irish taking the exact same approach against Texas. Last season, the Longhorns run defense was putrid, especially in the last three or four games of the season. Notre Dame will line up and hand the ball off to Tarean Folston and Josh Adams. Folston was injured and missed pretty much the entire 2015 season and is ready to share the load with Adams, this will be a great duo to go along with the mobility of the Irish QB's, Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer. I have always likes the term used by many coaches, "if you have two quarterbacks, that means you don't have a quarterback." In most cases I agree with this, but somehow it works for Notre Dame and with these two guys taking snaps, it does not really slow down the offense. Again, physicality and the trenches, that is the key for Notre Dame.
So how can Texas win? Well, the same way I think Notre Dame could win. I see this being a grind it out, pound for pound, heavy weight fight. Both teams are going to come out and try to hit the other team in the mouth with the run game. Texas will be playing a new quarterback in Shane Buechele. Charlie Strong will want to take as much pressure off Buechele as he can and make sure in the passing situations, the kid is put in a position to not make mistakes. Enter, the Texas offensive line. Many, including Coach Strong himself, are saying this is the best O-line the Longhorns have seen in the Charlie Strong Era and with this line, it should set up nicely for Texas against the Irish. Running backs, D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren III should be able to get the Horns in good enough positions to take the heat off the QB on third downs and not only that, keep drives alive and make this a four quarter game, unlike last season.
This is going to be a very fun game and I seriously doubt it ends up in a blow out this time around. Am I saying Texas will win? Not quite, but if they do I will not be surprised. Not that I ever put much stock into "predictors" but the ESPN Game Predictor just a few days ago actually had Texas with the advantage to win. Much of this can be attested to it being a home game and lets not forget that Notre Dame has had quite a bit of off the field issues here lately and maybe that can play a factor as well. However, I cannot wait to see this game and I am predicting a close one. I think the upset happens. I have never had much faith in Notre Dame. Even when they made the national title game before being absolutely destroyed by Alabama a few years back, Notre Dame was nowhere near the second best team in the nation. The Alabama/Georgia SEC Title was the national championship game. The winner of that was going to derail the Irish and heck, I bet there were three other SEC teams like LSU, Texas A&M, and Florida that could have done the same. I like Texas here and I like it to be sloppy and low scoring. Texas will somehow, someway, pull out an ugly 23-21 win.
Bob's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: TAKE THE TEXAS LONGHORNS +3.5.
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