No.11 Notre Dame and unranked Texas will meet on Saturday night when they both take the field for the first time in the 2015 college football season. Both teams are looking to rebound from seasons that didn’t go as they’d hoped.
Notre Dame ended the 2014 season with a win in the Music City Bowl over then-No.23 LSU, but the Fighting Irish had higher hopes two months earlier. They went undefeated through their first six games, finally losing a heartbreaker to Florida State as the No.5 team in the country. After a win over Navy, Notre Dame lost four consecutive games, ending any chance they had to make the College Football Playoff.
Much wasn’t expected from Texas in their first season under head coach Charlie Strong, but a losing record wasn’t what the Longhorns had in mind. Texas finished the year with a 6-7 record, getting blown out by Arkansas in their bowl game.
With a new quarterback at the helm, Notre Dame is expected to be a top team this year. Returning a lot of players on offense, including quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, Texas will try to build on Strong’s first season.
With Notre Dame considered a legitimate contender to make the playoffs and Texas still rebuilding, the Fighting Irish are expected to win on Saturday. But Notre Dame finds itself in a tougher position than almost any ranked team on the first weekend.
Most of the top teams will compete in virtual “tune-up” games, and only one ranked in the top 25 is a smaller favorite than Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are giving the Longhorns 9.5 points, according to vegasinsider.com, while No.15 Arizona State is an underdog in their visit to Texas A&M. Even No.3 Alabama, who is visiting No.2 Wisconsin, is a double-digit favorite in their opener.
The Fighting Irish have won their last three season openers, routing Rice by 31 points in their 2014 opener. Their last defeat in the first game of the year came in 2011 when they were topped by USF.
Saturday’s matchup is an unusual one for Texas. The team traditionally opens up their season against teams in smaller conferences, which has allowed them to win their last 15 openers. The Longhorns haven’t been defeated in the first game of the season since they were beaten by North Carolina State in 1999. Texas lost five games that year, which is something they wouldn’t do again until 2010.
Where To Watch
Notre Dame and Texas get underway at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Viewers can also watch a free live stream online with NBC Sports Live Extra.