Steve Morton’s Southern View-Big 12 Game of the Week – Week 1

NFL Draft

Big 12 Game of the Week – Week 1

Texas at Notre Dame

Why this game? Texas and Notre Dame has a luster that remains even in this era of traditional rivalries. It is a game pitting two of the largest fan bases in college football. The only school with its own cable network vs the only school with an exclusive network deal. NBC is featuring the game in primetime and ratings will probably not be exceeded until the playoffs or late in the season with games with playoff implications given the fan bases involved and the relative lack of competition in week 1.

Where can I see it? Notre Dame is the home team and thus the game will be on NBC at 7:30 ET

A historical perspective – These two teams met in the Cotton Bowl 3 times in the 1970’s. The first time in 1970 with undefeated and number 1 ranked Texas vs Notre Dame in the game that ended the Golden Domers self-imposed 45 year bowl ban. Notre Dame held the lead late but Texas rallied to win the game and the National championship. The very next year Notre Dame ended Texas’s 30 game undefeated streak. The 1978 game featured Hall of Famers, Earl Campbell for Texas and Joe Montana for Notre Dame. Texas was again ranked number 1 prior to the game but a 38-10 blowout vaulted Notre Dame to the national championship. The first of the five rings Joe Montana is seen so proudly displaying to Heisman Trophy winners: Doug Flutie, Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson in this commercial (otherwise known as the ultimate mic drop).

I can hear the enough already tell us about the game so without further ado…

When Notre Dame has the ball –

Notre Dame’s offense is one of the most talented in the country loaded with experienced Sunday talent on the offensive line (Ronnie Stanley & Nick Martin), WR (Will Fuller, Corey Robinson, Chris Brown) and RB (Tarean Folston and CJ Prosise). Mike Sanford was brought in from Boise State to coordinate the offense for Brian Kelly. If Malik Zaire shows the dual threat promise displayed against LSU in the Music City Bowl is real, the Fighting Irish will be one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Texas will counter with a talented but young defense in the back 7 led by senior CB Duke Thomas and huge hitting sophomore Jason Hall. Look for Hall to test the mettle of the Notre Dame WR core early with some huge hits. The defensive line is led by a couple of seniors with quicks and size: Desmond Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway. Junior college transfer Quincy Vissar vs All American Ronnie Stanley will be a matchup to watch. It will be interesting to see how soon freshman uber athlete Malik Jefferson is ready to make an impact. The defense will be extremely well coached by one of the best defensive minds in the nation, Charlie Strong. This is the money matchup for the game. Texas cannot win a shootout with the Irish. The Longhorns defense must keep the game close.


When Texas has the ball – Texas suffers from a lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball. QB, Tyrone Swoopes is the incumbent at QB but he may lose the job to Jerrod Heard. As John Madden said, “if you got two, you probably don’t have one”. The WRs and offensive lineman are either young and unproven or lacking all around talent. Texas does boast a good array of running backs led by sharp cutting but perennially injured senior, Johnathan Gray and powerhouse sophomore D’Onta Foreman. The Longhorns will be looking to contain the Notre Dame offense and control the ball on offense with physical running and move the chains offense. Notre Dame will counter with a defense that has been inconsistent but is led by one of the nation’s best players: Jaylon Smith and features solid defensive end, Sheldon Day and one of the best corner combinations in the country in KeiVaire Russell and Cole Luke. Notre Dame safeties, Elijah Shumate and Max Redfield return. In 2014, they were major question marks as missed assignments and meh play led to big plays that were game changers. The question is can Texas exploit this weakness or will Shumate and Redfield play to their ability.

2016 Offensive Draft Player to Watch – The highest rated offensive player in this game will almost certainly be Ronnie Stanley but I am going to go a little off the radar and highlight WR Corey Robinson. Robinson is probably best known as the son of the Admiral, David Robinson, but he is a true Sunday athlete in his own right. Robinson is 6’4 215 with 4.5 speed. He has a chance to be the player many thought Justin Hunter would be. Robinson shows good movement skills for his height and he is a highpointing machine. Look for him to go from under the radar to over hyped as the 2015 season goes along.

Here is a video link to Robinson in action

2016 Defensive Player to Watch – Jaylon Smith LB Notre Dame. In this game, I couldn’t honestly select anyone else. Smith may be the perfect pursuit LB. He has size, speed, instincts, and great technique. Smith is one of the best you will ever see taking on a cut block to the point that to cut him is essentially just giving up a blocker. It is unusual for a pursuit LB to go in the top 10 but look for Smith to be one of the special ones who does. And here’s Jaylon Smith wreaking havoc

Don’t take this to Vegas Prediction

This should be the largest mismatch for Texas since the Alamo. Notre Dame is more talented and experienced on both sides of the ball and unlike the ultimate victory for Texas at San Jacinto, the Irish also enjoy the home field advantage. I have a feeling Texas and Charlie Strong keep the game closer than they ought, but like the defenders of the Alamo eventually go down to defeat with Notre Dame pulling away late for 24-10 victory. A Texas upset like at San Jacinto would indeed wake the echoes at Notre Dame but those echoes won’t be whispering a tune that will bring pleasure to Brian Kelly’s ears.



Related Articles

2024 On the Clock Mock Draft Simulator is Live!

We have launched 2024 On the Clock mock draft simulator! It's never too early to start mocking for…

Read More about 2024 On the Clock Mock Draft Simulator is Live!

On the Clock LIVE is Here! Draft LIVE based on based on Real-time Data!

Fanspeak will be updating data real-time (immediately after each pick), including players picked and any draft order changes…

Read More about On the Clock LIVE is Here! Draft LIVE based on based on Real-time Data!