Football

IT Roundtable – Week 1: Notre Dame

Johnathan Gray. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Johnathan Gray. (Will Gallagher/IT)

It’s finally game week. Texas heads to South Bend to take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to open the 2015. Football, we’re finally here.

1. Texas @ Notre Dame score/outcome:
Justin Wells: Notre Dame 28, Texas 13. The Irish land a couple big plays, hold UT to field goals in a season-opening win in South Bend.
Eric Nahlin: Notre Dame 24, Texas 17. Texas puts up a valiant effort but just can’t generate enough offense. Defense bends a lot, breaks little.
Ian Boyd: Notre Dame 30, Texas 20. Texas turns the ball over and wastes a strong defensive effort.
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Notre Dame 27,Texas 17.
Sean Adams: Texas 24, Notre Dame 21.
Chris Hall: Notre Dame 24, Texas 20. Notre Dame is good enough offensively to score once a quarter. Texas is good enough defensively to make one of those a field goal. Longhorns struggle on offense, and get crushed in pass protection. Texas D will force a turnover and gift one touchdown to the O, but it won’t be enough in the end.
Bill Frisbie: Notre Dame 27, Texas 16. Texas will beat Notre Dame — on November 3, 2016. But not this Saturday in South Bend. The Horns have more freshmen in the Two-Deep (16) than they do scholarship seniors (14). Texas is a year away. It’s going to take a more experienced supporting cast to compensate for the program’s stunning implosion at QB. The team’s youthful energy should keep it close until the third quarter.
Mike Blackwell: ND 31-14, can’t see UT staying closer.
Michael Pearle: Notre Dame 27, Texas 21. The Horns give us a glimpse of the bright future that is coming up fast, but winning at South Bend with this very young group is too much to ask, too soon.
Clendon Ross: Two true freshman starters on the OL and two freshman starters at linebacker is probably enough data to make this pick. Teams just don’t win games against quality opponents relying on completely inexperienced players, regardless of talent-level, at those key positions. Add in a QB who has yet to demonstrate a consistent winning level of play and who, the last two times we saw him, played quite poorly (to be charitable), and you have a recipe for a big struggle in a road opener vs. a top 15-level team. Notre Dame 34, Texas 13.

2. Who accounts for more touchdowns; Swoopes or Heard?
Justin Wells: Swoopes. He’ll throw a hitch to John Burt, who houses it.
Eric Nahlin: One each, because God wants me to deal with quarterback controversies.
Ian Boyd: Swoopes. I’m not sure if Heard gets enough snaps to make a big impact.
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Swoopes.
Sean Adams: Swoopes.
Chris Hall: Swoopes. Ain’t nothing changed. Swoopes is the starter, Heard will continue to be a conversation piece (until the wheels fall off for Watson).
Bill Frisbie: Here’s a surprising fact: the single-game, passing record in the Texas-OU series belongs to Tyrone Swoopes. You never know which Swoopes is going to show, and we don’t know how early-and-often Heard will play. Swoopes accounts for more TDs — by default.
Mike Blackwell: Swoopes, only because he plays longer.
Michael Pearle: Swoopes, with one TD pass.
Clendon Ross: Swoopes, with a grand total of one.

3. Over/Under 300 total yards for UT’s offense?
Justin Wells: Over. Barely.
Eric Nahlin: Over, barely. It’ll be a function of running more plays.
Ian Boyd: Over. Juuuuust barely, but tempo and garbage time help Texas get some late yardage.
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Under.
Sean Adams: Over.
Chris Hall: Under. Everyone is underwhelmed with Texas’ “new” offense.
Bill Frisbie: Over, but barely. Notre Dame’s D-line has been markedly thinned by attrition.
Mike Blackwell: Under, I might’ve taken the under if this number was 200.
Michael Pearle: Over. I expect they’ll produce in the 375-400 range.
Clendon Ross: Over (barely).

4. Who leads the Longhorns in sacks?
Justin Wells: Shiro Davis.
Eric Nahlin: Malik Jefferson.
Ian Boyd: Malik Jefferson. He’ll be tracking Zaire all night.
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Shiro Davis.
Sean Adams: Derick Roberson.
Chris Hall: Hassan Ridgeway. Big boy eats a little more this year (even though he’s not technically starting week 1).
Bill Frisbie: Hassan Ridgeway is the returning sack-leader, but I’ll go with Poona Ford to make a statement. Keep an eye out for backup DE Bryce Cottrell who should have a breakout season.
Mike Blackwell: Hughes, I don’t see many sacks.
Michael Pearle: Malik Jefferson.
Clendon Ross: Hassan Ridgeway.

5. How many freshmen start? Play?
Justin Wells: Five start, nine play with Bonney and Boyd getting INTs.
Eric Nahlin: Six start (Jefferson, Williams, Vahe, Burt, Bonney, Freeman) and damn near all of them play.
Ian Boyd: 5, 10. Vahe, Williams, Burt, McNeal (for a play at least), and Malik start while multiple freshmen get snaps on special teams or in relief.
Jesus Shuttlesworth: four, seven. At least.
Sean Adams: 5 start (Conner Williams, Patrick Vahe, Malik Jefferson, Freeman, Bonney) 11 play.
Chris Hall: Five true freshmen start, nine true freshmen play. That’s exciting for fans, but doesn’t bode well for the current the team. Expect a big learning curve.
Bill Frisbie: Six freshman will start; 10 will play
Mike Blackwell: 6 start, 10 play, hence, 31-10.
Michael Pearle: Five start (Jefferson, Williams, Vahe, Boyd, Burt), nine play.
Clendon Ross: Six start, 17 play (true and redshirt).

6. UT’s first touchdown of 2015 goes to….
Justin Wells: Deandre McNeal, which kicks off his Finessin’ campaign.
Eric Nahlin: Daje because I want to believe.
Ian Boyd: Daje sneaks a TD in early before the Irish have fully adjusted to Texas’ tempo and Daje’s speed.
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Swoopes.
Sean Adams: J-Gray.
Chris Hall: Johnathan Gray. For the first time since Jamaal Charles in ’07, Texas has one back that owns the position. It’s his year — and he eats.
Bill Frisbie: Texas’ first TD of the season goes to my favorite rapper Daje Johnson.
Mike Blackwell: Johnathan Gray, they will lean on him heavily.
Michael Pearle: Johnathan Gray.
Clendon Ross: Johnathan Gray.

7. Upset of the week in CFB:
Justin Wells: Arizona State over A&M.
Eric Nahlin: Washington over Boise State. Master beats grasshopper.
Ian Boyd: Wisconsin over Alabama. Bama’s offense is losing a ton, their new QB may be susceptible, and Wisconsin is loaded on defense. The Badgers would have thrashed LSU last year with remotely competent QB play, they get it this time.
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Wisconsin over Alabama.
Sean Adams: A&M over Arizona State.
Chris Hall: Wisconsin over Alabama. It could just be that I really want this to happen… Paul Chryst’s return to Wisconsin starts with a bang. The SEC, king Saban, and the Crimson Tide take a crushing blow. The Badgers win a close one with heart, a brutal running game, and a defense that returns 8 starters. In the end, Alabama’s young offense can’t come from behind and win.
Bill Frisbie: No. 15/16 Arizona State is a 3.5 underdog to Texas A&M. The, ahem, neutral site will be in Aggie-friendly Houston — but I’m taking the Sun Devils in what hardly qualifies as an upset.
Mike Blackwell: Minnesota over TCU (did I really say that?).
Michael Pearle: Neutral field in Arlington gives the Badgers a chance to pull off the shocker.
Clendon Ross: Texas State over Florida State… Just kidding… How about Louisville over Auburn.

8. The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner is…..
Justin Wells: Nick Chubb. Might be better than Todd Gurley.
Eric Nahlin: Trevone Boykin. Ohio State’s QB1 and Ezekiel Elliott split the OSU love-fest vote.
Ian Boyd: Nick Chubb. Four starters coming back on the OL to help him out along with some weapons on the outside to relieve pressure and his escort Quayvon Hicks. I like Georgia in 2015.
Jesus Shuttlesworth: Trevone Boykin.
Sean Adams: JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State.
Chris Hall: Ezekiel Elliott. He’s the story of the Ohio State Buckeyes this year, and the reason they return to the College Football Playoff. Not the quarterback (whoever Meyer decides to start).
Bill Frisbie: Jake Butt, TE, Michigan.
Mike Blackwell: Elliott of Ohio State – wide open.
Michael Pearle: Davey O’Brien move over — Trevone Boykin gives the Toads their second Heisman trophy.
Clendon Ross: Cody Kessler, QB, USC.