1. Figure out the QBs: Neither DeShone Kizer nor Malik Zaire knew on Wednesday how they would be used on Sunday. Coach Brian Kelly said the two deserving starters will switch in an out based on the feel and flow of the game, as well as in certain situations. It’s a high-risk, high-reward strategy that could result in an explosive, efficient offense — or one that disrupts the Irish offense to the point where it’s a detriment. Step one to winning against Texas (and any game this year) is getting good quarterback play.
2. Force Texas to gain yards through the air: If Tyrone Swoopes starts, Texas will go with a guy who completed seven of 22 passes against Notre Dame in last year’s season opener. If it’s Shane Buechele, the Longhorns will be placing their offensive burden on the shoulders of a true freshman in his first college game. Texas has a solid stable of running backs led by D’Onta Freeman (7.2 YPC in 2015) and Chris Warren III (6.6 YPC) and not much experience at receiver. Couple that with an in-flux quarterback situation, and there’s no reason for Notre Dame to allow itself to get beat by the run on Sunday.
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3. Start fast: While there will be 100,000 people at Darrell K. Royal Stadium for the first time in the Charlie Strong era on Sunday, it’ll be a crowd that’s been disillusioned by mediocre results over the last two years. If the Irish can get a couple of early defensive stops and get in the end zone in the first quarter, it could take the crowd out of the game — which could in turn help some of Notre Dame’s less-experienced players ease into their first significant college action.
Prediction: Notre Dame 30, Texas 23