In a sold-out Notre Dame Stadium, the Longhorn faithful made the trek to South Bend, Indiana, hoping to see an improved offense and a strong defense, but what they saw was more of the same.
Texas’ new offense made a disappointing debut, while its defense was gashed by Notre Dame’s offense as the Fighting Irish rolled to a 38–3 win.
“We have to get better,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “We’re just a better football team than we showed. We can’t go out and not execute and not complete a game.”
Texas' struggles began on its first defensive drive. The Fighting Irish drove to midfield, but a 4th-down false start penalty stalled the drive.
Notre Dame’s offense was able to move the ball on its second drive of the game. Fighting Irish junior quarterback Malik Zaire connected with junior wide receiver Will Fuller for a 16-yard touchdown to give them a 7–0 lead.
The Longhorns' offense was anemic to start the first half. Texas went three-and-out on its first two drives of the game. Longhorn freshman punter Michael Dickson was able to pin the Fighting Irish deep in their own territory.
Despite a long field, the Fighting Irish went 95 yard and capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown rush by freshman running back Josh Adams.
Trying to spark its lethargic offense, Texas inserted redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard at quarterback. The Longhorns moved down the field after two runs from senior running back Johnathan Gray and a completion to senior wide receiver Daje Johnson. But the drive stalled after a hold.
The Fighting Irish added a field goal late in the first half. The Longhorns entered the locker room down 17–0
Texas’ third quarter woes from 2014 haunted the Longhorns on Saturday. In the gaze of Notre Dame’s iconic “Touchdown Jesus,” Zaire torched the Longhorn defense in the third quarter on his way to a career-high 313 passing yards. He connected with Fuller for a 66-yard touchdown and added a 6-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to senior wide receiver Chris Brown to cap off his night.
When the final whistle blew, Texas’ defense gave up 527 yards to the Fighting Irish, who held the Longhorns to 163 offensive yards.
Sophomore defensive end Naashon Hughes blamed lack of execution for the team’s blowout loss.
“We’re not really shell-shocked,” Hughes said. “But now we have an understanding of where we have to get to.”
Gray added that he was disappointed by the offense's performance, but he knows the Longhorns have 11 games to redeem themselves.
“Coming out here to Notre Dame, a great game and great atmosphere, the stage is set,” Gray said. “For us to lay an egg, it’s mind-boggling. As a leader, I got to get those guys going and know it’s not the end for us.”
Strong said he and Texas have to reset for their game against Rice.
“Well, it's always a shock and you go get embarrassed,” Strong said. “You would have figured out we would have came out and played much better than we did. But you can still look at it at the end of the day at 38–3, and I think we are a better football team than that.”