It’s only week 1, but there’s a good chance that the 50-47 double overtime win by Texas over Notre Dame, clinched with a Tyrone Swoopes into the end zone, is going to end up as the craziest and possibly the best college football game of the 2016 season.
The Longhorns avenged their humiliation South Bend last year by upsetting the #10 ranked Irish, and for the first time in the Charlie Strong era, actually feel good about their quarterback situation, and what they can accomplish this season. They probably will be ranked when the polls come out based on the hype alone, but this win is far from proof that Texas are back, and that the Big 12 should watch out.
The biggest emergence from this game is undoubtedly Swoopes, who has struggled as the Longhorns quarterback for the last two years (when he wasn’t benched or hurt), and was responsible for 3 touchdowns, all on the ground, while Texas gave up on his passing skills, attempting just one. Some of his runs, including the game winner in second overtime (and also the first in the first overtime) were pure determination, and his dive into the endzone is one of the best photos the sport has produced in the last few years.
Both teams combined for 443 yards on the ground, and Notre Dame even won the turnover battle. But the Irish’s defense really blew it in this game, giving up big plays whenever it mattered, like Shane Buechele throwing a 72-yard touchdown pass to John Burt, putting Texas 28-14 up, although the ND response was 3 consecutive touchdowns: DeShone Kizer running for one, and throwing for two. He finished with five touchdown passes.
Two of his TD passes were to Equanimeous St. Brown, including one of the most acrobatic finishes you’ll see this season. He got tackled 3 yards, sending him flying into the air. He leaned on one arm to soften the landing and kept twisting in the air to land in the end zone for the touchdown.
After taking that 35-31 lead, Texas replied with a rushing touchdown by D’Onta Foreman, who finished with 131 yards. It put Texas 37-35 up, but the game went to overtime on the extra point, as Notre Dame blocked it, and ran it back into the end zone, sending the game into a few more fantastic minutes.
Notre Dame had something to be angry about besides the score: The officials. In the third quarter, Kizer tried to connect with Torii Hunter Jr. (son of the baseball player) in the end zone. Texas defensive back should have been called for targeting and maybe thrown out of the game, hitting Hunter in the head with his shoulder and helmet, resulting in Hunter spread out on his back for a few minutes before going to the locker room. The officials didn’t even review this play.
Maybe this ends Notre Dame’s national championship canches, who knows. This could be the signature win Texas have been waiting for since Strong took over the program from Mack Brown, although it would be wise to wait and see the effect of this win. This could be just something like their win over Oklahoma last season: A bright spot in a rather bleak existence. However, for fans of a programs used to winning, they’ll probably latch on to every opportunity hinting that the great days are back.