After going 11-14 through his first two seasons at Texas, Charlie Strong desperately needed a big win – and he got it Sunday, leading the Longhorns to a 50-47 double overtime victory over No. 10 Notre Dame.
“That was the best game (of the weekend),” USA Today college football writer George Schroeder said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Texas lost that 17-point lead and came back and scored a touchdown, and then they had that goofy blocked extra point, which turned into two points that tied it up again. Texas of a year ago, earlier in Charlie Strong’s program building, loses that game at either of those points. I think we saw a pivotal moment in the program just sort of growing up. Now, everybody is going to focus on the quarterback. That’s huge – Shane Buechele and the new offense – but I actually thought there was some intangible there that we learned about Texas.”
Buechele, a freshman, looked sharp in his debut, going 16-of-26 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran five times for 33 yards and a score. Tyrone Swoopes, meanwhile, ran his 18-wheeler package to perfection, rushing 13 times for 53 yards and three touchdowns.
More importantly, Texas showed fight, grit and a will to win.
“They played really well – much better than people expected,” Schroeder said. “It turns out they’re pretty good. That might end up being a decent loss for Notre Dame down the road. It’s certainly going to be a really good win for Texas if they can continue to build.”
While Texas figures to use two quarterbacks going forward, Notre Dame likely will not. DeShone Kizer dazzled in leading the Irish back from a 17-point deficit, throwing for 215 yards and five touchdowns and rushing 13 times for 77 yards and another score. Malik Zaire, on the other hand, went 2-of-5 for 23 yards in limited action.
“I think clearly Kizer is the better player,” Schroeder said. “He’s the better pro prospect. That doesn’t matter. Sometime people are better college players. He’s a better college player, too. He runs the zone-read aspect well enough where he’s not the dynamic player that Zaire is in terms of a run game, but he’s good enough at it, and he’s a much more polished passer. So I would agree. He’s much better. There should not be a decision. After the game, Brian Kelly said that he still wasn’t ready to make the decision. I haven’t heard today, but I have to think there’s going to be a conversation with Zaire. That was sort of what that was about: We’re not going to talk about it in the press before we talk about it with the quarterback.”
In other news, Houston announced its playoff presence with authority, beating No. 3 Oklahoma, 33-23, on Saturday.
“They were really good,” Schroeder said of the Cougars. “The thing that was most impressive about them is they were more physical than Oklahoma. I don’t know if you would look at that game and say Houston wins seven out of 10, but you might say they win five out of 10, and who was going to say that before? On that day, they just manhandled Oklahoma. Oklahoma made some mistakes and made it a little bit easier, but Houston, that game easily could have been 17 and not 10. So it was a really impressive display by the Cougars.”