Texas won a thriller over Notre Dame in two overtimes. What are the 5 Things That Matter about the breakthrough victory?
And there’s your quarterback, Part 1
Tyrone Swoopes might have pulled out the game in OT and powered his way to three touchdowns overall, but it was the other guy’s night.
Shane Buechele might have thrown one bad interception that changed the momentum, and he might have been helped by the thundering running game, but he stepped into the biggest game at Texas in several seasons and coolly and calmly came up with a brilliant performance throwing two touchdown passes, getting rid of the ball when nothing was there, and looking every bit the part of the next great Longhorn quarterback.
There were young mistakes all across the board for Texas, but the main guy showed he’s ready to be the new leader and star.
And there’s your quarterback, Part 2
Notre Dame flirted with Malik Zaire here and there just to throw a curveball into the equation, but DeShone Kizer is the team’s quarterback now. He has to be.
Not only did he show a brilliant passing touch with a mediocre receiving corps to throw to – made worse after Torii Hunter Jr. was knocked out of the game – but he brought the power to the running game at times barreling forward to keep things moving when nothing was there. Shane Buechele was the coolest guy in the 90-degree hot room for most of the game, but Kizer was the man for the full sixty minutes and beyond.
But it was Buechele – and Swoopes – who got it done.
Texas showed it really is different now
This terrific performance won’t matter a lick if Texas doesn’t come up with at least eight wins this season, but for all those impatient types who didn’t realize just how much the team needed to be rebuilt, this is what it looks like if you get a few years to reload.
The biggest key? The Sterlin Gilbert offense changed the dynamic of the program. Not only is the attack faster and with a greater tempo, when it was working early, it went warp speed with more power than just about any other O that runs the same style. It’s not just fast, it brings two, 250-pound running backs, and occasionally, 250-pounds of Tyrone Swoopes thumping away. And now Texas has its identity going forward.
And it has its head coach.
The Notre Dame defense powered up, too
The Longhorns might have put up 50 points and gave up five rushing touchdowns, but in the heat and pressure of the game and the moment, the defense did a fantastic job of clamping down up front in the second half.
The Irish D won’t get any credit, but it did a fantastic job of adjusting.
It looked like the Longhorns were going to crush and kill all game long, but the Irish line got more pressure into the backfield, got to the thunder runners before they could get a head of steam, and Isaac Rochell – who was a MAN in the interior – spearheaded the massive comeback to almost pull it off.
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
The Longhorns have time to get better and better with UTEP and California up next. The offense should be able to power its way to a few wins before starting the Big 12 season with road games at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. For a still-young team that’s still needs more time and seasoning, it played well enough against a great Irish squad, and now it needs to tune up and get tighter.
With Nevada up next, Notre Dame gets a relative breather before having to deal with Michigan State, and then the schedule eases up in a big way. Considering all the big games are at home until the regular season finale at USC, this is the one the Irish had to have. They can still get to the College Football Playoff by winning out, but there’s no more margin for error. Every game really is a playoff now.