Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 66 of 99 PRESEASON 2016 67 season loss. It also pulled off a sur- prise win at Baylor to cap its season. Sometimes it's the Jekyll-and-Hyde teams that can be the most fearsome — part of why Notre Dame is for now only a 3.5-point favorite at Texas. "We've got our football team's at- tention in camp," Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly said. "They know who they are playing against. … You have to be prepared when you step on the field against Texas. That's the positive end of it." There are several reasons why this game is an attention grabber: • It is the first time Notre Dame is opening a season at the other team's on-campus site since 2006. In that night game at Georgia Tech, the No. 2-ranked Irish rallied from a 10-0 deficit to eke out a 14-10 win. • Notre Dame has generally strug- gled the past decade in its initial road trip to an on-campus site, including rallying to a 34-27 win at Virginia last year with 12 seconds left. • Per "Notre Dame is 0-8 straight up the last three years in true road games (neutral sites don't count) when they are favored by less than a TD or an underdog." • Texas will be pointing to state pride and not dropping to 0-5 versus the Irish in Austin, most recently the 27-24 victory in 1996 on a Jim Sanson field goal as time expired. The past has no bearing on any present game, but it can provide some extra juice to any contest. "They want the bright lights," Kelly said of his team. "They want the na- tionally televised games. I think if you polled our kids, they would rather be playing Texas." THE HEAT IS ON While third-year Texas head coach Charlie Strong sits on the proverbial hot seat with an 11-14 mark his first two years, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is more focused on a dif- ferent kind of heat in Austin. It could be one of the most scorching games in Notre Dame history. "We're going to have to play a lot of guys against Texas," Kelly said. "They are a tempo team; it's going to be hot." Per weather service wunderground. com, in four of the past five years the temperature in Austin has reached at least 100 degrees on Sept. 4. The one year it didn't (2014), it was "only" 99. While the 6:30 p.m. CT kickoff is not the hottest time of the day, tem- peratures in Austin don't normally drop to below 80 degrees until 10 p.m. The Longhorns practice in those temperatures daily and will put even more heat on the oft-maligned Notre Dame defense with their new look, up-tempo, spread offense. Notre Dame uses global positioning system (GPS) trackers on all its play- ers to monitor how much exertion goes into each practice and evaluated them extensively throughout August camp. Notre Dame's depth has improved significantly the past several years — as evidenced by still being in the College Football Playoff hunt the last weekend of the regular season in 2015 despite numerous crucial injuries — and it will have to be tapped into ef- fectively in the heat at Austin. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: TEXAS Head coaches Brian Kelly of Notre Dame and Charlie Strong of Texas will have to prepare and manage their teams for temperatures that could hit triple digits during their season-opening showdown. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Predictions Corey Bodden: Notre Dame 34, Texas 24 The offense struggles at the start with a young receiving corps and a rowdy Texas crowd, but finds its rhythm in the second half. Bryan Driskell: Notre Dame 31, Texas 20 Texas will come out with a great deal of energy, looking for revenge. Notre Dame should be able to keep up with the early energy, and as the game wears on the more experienced and physical Irish lines should wear down the young Longhorns. Matt Jones: Notre Dame 27, Texas 21 The Irish stutter out of the gates with their two-quarterback system and Texas keeps the game close into the fourth quarter. Notre Dame makes enough plays to escape with a tough road win. David McKinney: Notre Dame 27, Texas 17 Which Irish QB will emerge from this game remains to be seen, but it will throw Texas for a loop having to prepare for them. Plus, the Notre Dame defense shouldn't have much problem containing Texas' offense. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 23, Texas 20 I fear the law of averages here because Notre Dame is 4-0 in Austin and 9-2 overall versus Texas, but the Irish should win in the trenches.

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