Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Texas Longhorns Betting Odds, College Football Pick

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2016

FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015 file photo, Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire, left, hands off to running back Tarean Folston during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas in South Bend, Ind. Zaire played brilliantly in a season-opening 38-3 rout of Texas last year but broke his ankle a week later against Virginia and missed the remainder of the season. With Zaire healthy again and DeShone Kizer back as well, No. 10 Notre Dame has an uncertain quarterback situation as it heads into the season.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Texas had won 15 season openers in a row, going 8-4 against the spread over the last 12. Then last year, the Longhorns opened at Notre Dame, and that run of 1-0 starts got blown out of the water. This year, the Longhorns seek revenge as they host the Irish for the season opener Sunday night in Austin.


Point spread: The Fighting Irish opened as 2.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 36.1-29.4 Fighting Irish


Why the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can cover the spread

The Irish return only nine starters from their 10-3 team of last season, but they still loom as contenders for a spot in the College Football Playoff. On offense, they lost last year's leading rusher and top two receivers but return a pair of pretty good quarterbacks in DeShone Kizer (63 percent passing as a freshman last season) and Malik Zaire. Also, running back Josh Adams ran for 835 yards at seven yards per carry as a freshman last year.

Defensively, five starters are back, so Notre Dame should come close to the 24 points per game it allowed last year. The Fighting Irish embarrassed Texas in last season's opener 38-3, outgaining the Longhorns 527-163, easily covering as nine-point favorites.


Why the Texas Longhorns can cover the spread

This is the best Texas team head coach Charlie Strong has had in his three seasons here, and he'd better take advantage. The Longhorns return 15 starters from a 5-7 squad of a season ago. Seven are back on offense, including last year's leading rusher and receiver and three up front along the line, while eight are back on defense, including three of the front four and three-quarters of the secondary.

The Longhorns averaged 371 yards per game on offense last year while giving up a gaudy 453 yards per game on defense. Even if they go with a freshman at quarterback, Texas will almost assuredly improve upon both those numbers this season.


Smart pick

Texas got embarrassed by the Irish last September, and the only way to ameliorate that feeling would be by returning the favor Sunday. The Longhorns might be feeling some pressure to relieve the heat on Strong's seat, but programs often make positive strides in the third seasons of new regimes. Take Texas here, a home dog that might not even need the points.


Betting trends

The total has gone over in 14 of Notre Dame's last 21 games.

Texas is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games as an underdog.

Notre Dame is 10-0 SU in its last 10 games as a favorite.


All point spread and betting lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Odds Shark on Twitter and YouTube for injury information, line movement updates and more game analysis, and get the free odds tracker app.


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