Frankie V’s Prediction: Notre Dame v. Texas ’16

Last year Notre Dame ran all over Texas in the season opener. This year things could be closer - a lot closer (Photo: Brian Spurlock // USA TODAY Sports)
Last year Notre Dame ran all over Texas in the season opener. This year things could be closer – a lot closer (Photo: Brian Spurlock // USA TODAY Sports)

It’s been a few years since I’ve done regular predictions/previews during a Notre Dame football season, but this year I am committed to doing so and with a new format to boot!  As you’ll see at the bottom, I’ll also keep track of each week’s prediction vs. the actual outcomes.  Look for this column to appear every Friday on

Note: feel free to provide some feedback on the format in the comments!

How’d I Do Last Week?

Nothing to compare to this week as it’s the season opener, but each week I’ll look back at the previous week’s prediction to see how I did and how far off I was.  Spoiler alert: this section could be lengthy.

Players to Watch

Obviously there’s a lot of players to watch this week beings it’s the opener, but here are a few I am particularly interested in watching in the season opener.

  • Tarean Folston – How does his knee hold up and how well does he respond to a couple good, early hits.  Folston has flashed his excellent vision throughout camp, but how he responds in his first game back will be interesting.
  • Nyles Morgan – He is going to be fun to watch this season.
  • Daelin Hayes – How much does the frosh play?  If he can rush the passer like we’ve heard he can, will Kelly learn from the mistake of not playing Aaron Lynch and Stephon Tuitt early in the 2011 season?
  • Jarron Jones – How many snaps will the big fella be able to take?  Kelly raised some eyebrows listing him as a co-starter along with Daniel Cage at NT.
  • Greer Martini – Notre Dame’s Mr. Utility gets his chance to start at the WILL.
  • Shaun Crawford – A year later we finally get to see the talented corner suit up for the Irish.
  • All the Wide Receivers – No point in singling anyone out here.  With all the turnover at wide receiver all of them are going to be interesting to watch.
  • Avery Sebastian – Can the “old man” handle the free safety position in place of Max Redfield or will we see Devin Studstill in the game early?
  • Colin McGovern – Of the three new starters on the offensive line, McGovern was the last to lock down a spot and enters the season as the biggest question mark.

What’s Concerning Me This Week

  • The quarterback situation – I’m not a fan of the two quarterback system.  I hope Kelly proves me wrong, I really, really do.  Until he does, however, the idea of playing two quarterbacks throughout the game scares the hell out of me.
  • Opening on the road on a Sunday – Never a good thing to open on the road and never a good thing to open on an unconventional game day.  Maybe I’m still jaded from the Thursday night Vanderbilt opener back in 1996.  Still, a road opener in prime time on a Sunday scares me.
  • Notre Dame’s safeties – Starting Drue Tranquill off an ACL and Avery Sebastian as the safeties worries me not just for this week, but for the season.
  • All the new starters – Notre Dame is starting at least 12 new starters against Texas.  That’s A LOT of moving parts and creates a lot of room for error this week.  Season openers can be sloppy at times.  Throw in 12 new starters to the mix and you have a recipe for a lot of mix ups.
  • The revenge factor – Everyone keeps pointing to Notre Dame’s 38-3 win last year but remember; in 2003 Notre Dame lost 38-0 to Michigan on the road and them came back the next year and beat the Wolverines 28-20 at home.  Fast forward to 2007.  Notre Dame gets whacked 38-0 again by Michigan in the Big House and follows that up with a 35-17 victory (that wasn’t that close) in 2008.
  • The heat – It should cool down some by kick-off on Sunday night, but the South Texas heat and humidity on Labor Day weekend combined with 110,000 fans could make for some rough playing conditions for the Irish.  The summers in Indiana aren’t exactly cool and breezy, but the conditions could take some getting used to.

What’s Not Concerning Me This Week

  • Texas’s tempo offense – Yes North Carolina exposed Brian Vangorder’s defense in 2014 and yes Notre Dame has struggled with tempo offenses the past two seasons; but Texas might be starting a true freshman AND the tempo offense is brand new to them.  How many times has a school been able to implement a new offense – especially a tempo offense – in an off-season and come out firing on all cyclinders?  I expect the Texas offense to have a few kinks in it this weekend as they get used to running the tempo offense.
  • Notre Dame’s wide receivers – Even with all the turnover, I like this group of wide receivers and think they will make plays early and often.  There may be a few mental errors from the group, but overall I think this group will perform well from the jump in 2016.
  • The offensive line – Yes I mentioned that all the new starters in general worry me, but I’m not worried about the offensive line.  Harry Hiestand will have his troops locked in and ready.  The left side of the line will be a wall with McGlinchey and Nelson.  Mustipher and Bars appear rock solid as well.  The only wild card, McGovern, was a four start recruit and has been in the program four years.  That ladies anf gentlement is how you restock an offensive line.

Prediction Time

I have gone back and forth on this one for a while.  All off-season long this game has scared me and it continues to do so.  Notre Dame has been hit (Navy ’12, Rice ’14, Texas ’15) or miss (Purdue ’10, South Florida ’11, Temple ’13) in season openers under Brian Kelly and none of those openers has been a true road game.  Add in the 12 new starters and uncertainty at quarterback with the two headed monster the Irish will unload and there is a lot to be concerned with here.

I expect the Notre Dame offense to struggle early regardless of who is quarterbacking.  All those new starters will take some time to gel.  In fact, I won’t be surprised in the least if Notre Dame is trailing this one at half-time.  Texas has had this game circled for a while and they are going to come out fired up.

In the end, Notre Dame’s strength on both lines and Texas’s own uncertainly at quarterback will win this game for Notre Dame but not without some collective heartburn from Notre Dame fans.

Notre Dame 27, Texas 23

Season Predictions v. Actual Outcomes

1@ TexasW, 27-23L, 47-50 OTOne defensive stop in the 4th could have saved the prediction.
2NevadaW, 52-21W, 39-10Thought there'd be more scoring, but margin of victory wasn't far off.
3Michigan StateW, 31-21L, 28-36Completely overestimated the defense's ability to slow the run game
4DukeW, 42-24L, 35-38I got nothing on this one.
5@ SyracuseW, 47-38W, 50-33Irish show some signs of life and for once an opponent doesn't score more than I predicted.
6@ NC StateW, 42-35
9@ Navy
11Virginia Tech
12@ USC

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  1. Actually IrishHawk UHND is not my day job. Nor is it Kyle’s. We run this site as a hobby because we love Notre Dame football and comments like yours make it worth our time and effort.

  2. Don’t give up you day job, Frank. Oh wait, this is your day job. In that case, you have problems as you are now 0-1 and we are already out of the playoffs after the first weekend

  3. When ya got leprechauns on yer side, ya never tell’em to be taken a knee, even if ders only one second left, ya hear?

  4. The two quarterback thing worries me. Especially watching Auburn against Clemson. While AU QBs aren’t as good as NDs. The whole offense just seemed to be confused all night never really getting in a groove. Hope it doesn’t end up that way for the Irish. This isn’t the same Texas team ND played last year, they are improved. Charlie Strong is a good coach, he’ll have his team ready this time. We’ve already seen two top ten teams beat this weekend with a few more upsets.

  5. Well, Frank I would accept your result. But just so we can have some weeping and gnashing of teeth, I will accept your result if the Horns go up 23-0, with posters breaking ankles jumping off the bandwagon before the Irish launch a stirring 27-0 rally to validate and vindicate your prediction.

    On matchups, I like Quenton Nelson over Bevo in the one-on-one. Word has it that Bevo has a bigger quaalude problem than Jason Belfort.

    Go Irish!

  6. I read ND is 0-8 as road underdogs or as road favorites of less than a TD. This week @ Texas, -3/-4.
    Until ND establishes themselves as road warriors, any good team (even @Temple and @Virginia last year) can be a threat to win against ND. And Texas did improve as the year progressed, with victories over Oklahoma and Baylor. From a thity-five point deficit last year to many oddsmakers picking Texas to win or lose in a close game. A ton of one and two year players on Texas will hopefully still be too green to take this one from ND. If the Irish “start fast and finish strong”, (strength coach Longo’s motto) and keep turnovers down, it’ll be a lot easier, especially in the red-zone( more red-zone turnovers the last two seasons -6 in 2014 & 8 in 2015) than any other relevant team. Avoiding that trend would help.
    Bottom line, as with most games, the more dominant the line play the more likely the winner.

  7. Herbstreet just picked Texas . Jesus the whole big 12 sucks, loosing to this mid level program would be a tremendous lose. No-way it happens , they all think Kelly is crazy with the dual qb’s. When ND wins big they will all agree Texas stinks – again- GO IRISH

  8. Ron Burgundy. Spokesman for Irrelevant Lives Matter.

    Yup…that’s the one.

    Ron Burgundy. Spokesman for Irrelevant Lives Matter.

  9. david
    August 24, 2015 at 11:12 am
    Much of the football world scoffed when Georgia Tech hired Paul Johnson, Navy’s former head coach who brought his triple-option offense with him to Atlanta, but who’s laughing now?

  10. This game will be entirely satisfying if ND comes out mentally prepared to play football,
    doesn’t waste 2 or more time outs before the 10 minute mark,
    manages to at least get field goal attempts in the red zone,
    plays QB from under center and runs the ball when within 4 yards of the end zone,
    doesn’t chase 2 point plays when it has no idea whether its necessary,
    etc. etc.

    You know….non-stupid football.

  11. Should not be close, very average Texas team. This is up to the defense to hold them under 20 . Irish should put up 35 at least and control the ball . Kelly knows he has to cover up for his lousy d- cord hire and will ball hog.

  12. Too much offense for Texas to handle -Eexpect big day for Running Backs and one of receivers to really stand out – 2QB System will not go entire game

  13. I have a hard time seeing how it plays out the way some of the pundits are predicting: Texas uses two 250 pound running backs to run the ball down ND’s throat. I don’t care how big your backs are if you don’t have an offensive line. We may get torched through the air this year, but I don’t see too many teams bullying Jarron, Cage, Tillery, Rochell, and Jay Hayes. Texas is probably pretty good on D, ND 31 – 17.

  14. This game will give a good indication of the kind of season ND has. A loss won’t be the end of the world, but will in all likelihood eliminate any chance of a playoff spot (unless they miraculously win out after this).

    I think this game is winnable. Texas has a lot to play for, they want to show they are improved over last year and I think they will play better this year. But once ND shakes off the rust, I do think they will pull out a win. One bright spot is most pundits are calling this to be a close game, so a close win for the Irish won’t hurt there playoff chances (unlike a close game against, say Nevada).

  15. This is my upset special of the week. Absolutely hate the 2 qb system. 12 new starters is a lot. Still some huge defensive questions. 24-22 Texas.

  16. How much better is Texas from the team we played last year? Not Much. Notre Dame should attack this team early and I really don’t think Texas will have a lot of fight if we jump on them early if we let them hang around it could get interesting but I say we jump on them early through the ground and Air Irish win 38-17

  17. Lots of FG attempts due to the 2 QB system. Drives will stall out too often. 3 FGs & 2 TDs for the Irish.

    Predicting Irish victory 23-21.

  18. I think it will be tight early perhaps with some miscues that you expect in the season opener. However I expect to be up by double digits toward the end of the half. Hopefully they keep the pedal to the medal to start the second half, otherwise things may tighten up again but I think in the end Notre Dame wins 31 – 17.

  19. I get the feeling Notre Dame takes the lead 24-23 and then gets a break and scores a late T.D. or Field goal for a final of 27-23 or 31-23

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