Legacy Lines – 9/4/15: Humble Beginnings

Editors note: Hollis Oliver McLain, III (@HollisOliverIII) will be publishing a series of articles throughout the season on some of college football’s most storied programs. This year, we’ve selected Alabama, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA and Virginia Tech. On Tuesday’s you’ll get important links about each program (Legacy Links) and on Friday’s you’ll get important story lines and a game preview of one team (Legacy Lines). Follow each of these stories here.

 After a stellar first night of college football, it will be difficult for the weekend games to top the excitement that was unleashed last night. From the ugly, turnover filled game that pitted the Carolina’s against each other to the lackluster offensive performance of the Hilltoppers and Commodores, college football came back with a vengeance, even if it wasn’t great football we saw. While only a few teams played, I think it is safe to say that we can’t wait to get Saturday started. With so many good games on the schedule, planning is the only way to watch them all.

When it comes to our legacy teams, the majority of them are going up against less than great talent, but a few teams, however, will have a challenge come Saturday. A couple notable games include Alabama vs. Wisconsin Saturday night, and Virginia Tech vs. Ohio State on Monday night. Although those two games will most likely prove to be exciting, there is one game that we will focus our attention to on Saturday. That game features the Texas Longhorns vs. the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 on NBC.

Before I delve into this week’s historical perspective, we need to know what to expect from these two teams come Saturday. Let’s start with the Longhorns. As we all know, Texas hasn’t been at their best recently, partly due to a coaching change, but also because of other outside sources. While Charlie Strong is a great defensive mind, he hasn’t been able to balance recruiting with scheme well enough to create any ripples on the defensive side of the ball. With roughly half of the defensive starters no longer wearing burnt orange, the Irish offense has a chance to strike early and often. Making the situation even more difficult for the young defense will be the evasive Malik Zaire. Even though Zaire has only made one start for the Irish, his quickness, arm, and decision-making could prove dangerous for Texas. The Longhorns have to keep him in the pocket and get some sort of pass rush if they hope to stop the Irish offense. On the other side of the ball, Texas has some elite playmakers, but the offense can only have success if they win the battle on the line of scrimmage.

While the Notre Dame defense isn’t exceptional, their line is well coached and can create problems in the passing game. If the Irish can stop Jonathon Gray from the start, I think the Irish could take control of the game. One thing is for sure, and that is the team that wins the turnover battle will most likely come out victorious. Even with the young starter at quarterback, I think the Irish take this one and start the season 1-0. Don’t be surprised if the Longhorns stay around for a while and have a chance to win it in the fourth though, especially if Matt Zaire struggles. All in all, I see Notre Dame winning this one by a couple touchdowns, but the Longhorns give a valiant effort in South Bend.

Since the theme of this entire beat is historical perspective, it would be a travesty not to talk about Notre Dame vs. Texas. As two of the greatest college football programs in history, these teams are considered college football royalty. If you asked most fans of these schools who their respective rivals were, you probably wouldn’t hear Texas or Notre Dame because the fact is, they haven’t played in almost twenty years. The last time the Irish played the Longhorns was the year 1996 and the Irish came out on top. In fact, the rivalry has only been played ten times in history, but those ten games meant a lot to the game of college football.

After the first five games of the series had been played, Notre Dame was 4-1 against Texas. Then came the 1969 college football season. Towards the end of the regular season, the Texas program was looking for an opponent to play in the Cotton Bowl for the National Championship (the Longhorns were ranked #1). The Longhorns wanted someone they would beat, but also a team that would give them a fight, so they picked Notre Dame, a team who had only been to one bowl game before this Cotton Bowl. Even though Texas ended up winning the game and the National Championship, Notre Dame gave them hell for four quarters and barely lost to the Longhorns. This great Irish performance would pave the way for two more nationally relevant Cotton Bowl games against Texas, both of which the Irish would win, and two more regular season games in the 90’s. While Texas may have gotten the best of ND in that first Cotton Bowl game, Notre Dame’s legacy as a strong football team, especially in bowl games, skyrocketed in years to come, and helped to bring Irish football to the national spotlight that it holds today.

If you would like to read more into this epic battle of programs, then check out this link (http://www.uhnd.com/articles/football/notre-dame-texas-history-23108/). Here you will find the full back-story of the historic game and maybe some other tidbits you didn’t previously know. Thank you for reading, and I hope to have you all back next week as we take on the next Legacy Line game of the week.