Good morning. Breakfast is served.
It’s September 5th — 248 down, 117 to go.
And 5 till the NFL season kicks off.
YESTERDAY: One day after TCU struggled in its season opener, Baylor had issues at SMU. The Bears still won, though. Texas volleyball toppled top-five Nebraska. Serena Williams lost the first set, but rallied to win her 24th straight U.S. Open match. She’s into the third round. Looks like Tim Tebow‘s staying in Philly; the Eagles traded Matt Barkley to the Cardinals. The Astros blanked the Twins, 8-0. The Rangers fell to the Angels, 5-2.
TODAY: Big opening-game tests for three unranked Texas teams playing on the road against ranked ones — Texas is at No. 11 Notre Dame (6:30, NBC, 104.9); Texas A&M meets No. 15 Arizona State at NRG Stadium in Houston (6, ESPN, 1370); and little Texas State meets Goliath (No. 10 Florida State, 7, ESPNews, 1300). Other top games? No. 3 Alabama vs. No. 20 Wisconsin in Arlington (7, ABC) tops the list. And Colt McCoy celebrates his 29th birthday.
TOMORROW: There’s third-round action at the U.S. Open (11 a.m. to 11 p.m., ESPN2). The Astros host the Twins (1:10) and the Rangers are at the Angels. Both are afternoon games. For those who want to watch some college football, you’ve got Purdue at Marshall (2, FS1).
Sept. 5 has a sports history. On this date, Cal Ripken Jr. tied Lou Gehrig‘s streak of playing in 2,130 straight games (1995); Jerry Rice caught his NFL-record 127th career TD pass (1994); 34-year-old Chris Evert lost her last U.S. Open match, falling to Zina Garrison in the quarterfinals, and then announced her retirement (1989); Palestinian terrorists stormed the Olympic Village at the Summer Olympics in Munich, taking a contingent of Israeli athletes and coaches hostage. Some 20 hours later, 17 were dead, including 11 Israelis (1972); J.R. Richard made his Astros debut, striking out 15 Giants (1971); Cassius Clay won an Olympic light heavyweight gold medal (1960); and the national anthem was sung at a sporting event for the very first time, during the middle of the seventh inning of Game 1 of the World Series between the Red Sox and Cubs at Comiskey Park (1918).
Last year on Sept. 5, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington resigned, Texas linebacker Deoundrei Davis left the UT program, and UT women’s hoops star Imani McGee-Stafford had surgery on her broken leg — she’d end up missing most of the early part of the season before returning for Big 12 play. Oh, and Westlake sophomore QB Sam Ehlinger — a future UT commitment for the 2017 class — accounted for 6 total TDs in a 49-48 win over Temple.
The Longhorns have played four games on Sept. 5, and are 2-2 — wins over Louisiana-Monroe (2009) and New Mexico State (1998), and losses to No. 21 Mississippi State (1992) and at No. 5 Auburn (1987). All were season openers.
Today’s sports birthdays: Colt McCoy (29) and Willie Gault (55). Other notables — Michael Keaton (64), Raquel Welch (75) and Bob Newhart (86). Freddie Mercury would’ve turned 69 today.
Today’s trivia: What was birthday boy Bob Newhart’s character name in his occasional role on “The Big Bang Theory,” for which he won an Emmy in 2013? (Answer’s at the end of Breakfast.)
Today’s lead: Texas vs. Notre Dame.
Storylines to follow: It’s the start of Year 2 of the Charlie Strong era. Tyrone Swoopes gets his latest, best chance at turning around public opinion of his quarterback play. … The Horns are virtually going all-in with their freshmen — six will start tonight’s game, and there are 19 of the 27 players from the 2015 signing class listed on UT’s depth chart. … New quarterback for Notre Dame — Malik Zaire. … This is only the 12th night game in Notre Dame Stadium history; the Irish are 9-2 so far in those games. … This will be the 15th time Texas opens the season on the road against a nationally-ranked team; the Horns are 5-7-2 in those so far. … Texas (No. 3) and Notre Dame (No. 2) are both among the all-time winningest college programs; the Irish have won 882 games in their history, only one W better than Texas’ 881. … Notre Dame is 28-5-1 vs. current Big 12 teams.
By the numbers: Notre Dame is 137-58-4 (.698) in September games and 72-24-1 (.747) in September games played at Notre Dame Stadium, but only 12-7 (.632) in September games under head coach Chip Kelly. … Look for turnovers. The Irish are 16-0 under Kelly when they don’t commit a turnover. … The Irish are only 7-13 under Kelly when they trail at the end of the third quarter. … Since the start of the 2005 season, Notre Dame has won 53 of the 58 games when the Irish have outrushed their opponent.
What are we doing today? The Statesman has UT beat writers Brian Davis and Ryan Autullo as well as columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden in South Bend. You’ll see photos from Rudy Gonzalez out of the game. Suzanne Halliburton is in Houston for tonight’s Texas A&M-Arizona State.
Our Texas-Notre Dame live game chat kicks off at 6 p.m.
Texas-Notre Dame connections: There are 10 Texans on the Notre Dame roster — Irish CB Nick Watkins and Horns DT Alex Norman were teammates at Dallas Bishop Dunne. Longhorns QB Trey Holtz is the granson of former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz and the son of ND assistant coach Skip Holtz. Strong was Notre Dame’s defensive line coach from 1995-98, spanning the Holtz and Bob Davie coaching eras there. And Fighting Irish tight end Durham Smythe, from Belton, was once a Longhorns commitment. … Notre Dame Stadium has a FieldTurf surface and seats 80,795. … The Irish lead the all-time series with Texas, 8-2. That includes a 2-1 mark at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish and Longhorns squared off against each other in the Cotton Bowl three times in the 1970s.
We asked our South Bend coverage foursome for their thoughts on tonight’s game:
Ryan Autullo: Lose if you have to, but don’t get blown out. Don’t get humiliated. Don’t do against Notre Dame what you did against Arkansas and TCU. A third straight ugly loss wouldn’t sit well with anyone, but — gasp — it could happen. Notre Dame is among the most seasoned teams in the nation, splattering returning starters all over the field. With 14 freshmen on the two-deep, Texas will be violating curfew by the time this game is over. The program needle is pointing in a positive direction, but teams do not win with freshmen. But if Texas can be competitive with freshmen, Saturday will be a success.
Kirk Bohls: This is my fourth trip to Notre Dame. The first came in December 1977 to advance Texas’ 1978 Cotton Bowl matchup, when I spent several days in South Bend getting shown around campus by a sports information assistant who later became Joe Montana’s first wife. I’ve since covered a Texas and Texas A&M game in front of Touchdown Jesus and I believe Texas’ only hope in staying with the Irish is turning the school’s iconic mural into Field Goal Jesus. I expect a tight first half but a clear-cut Notre Dame win with a strong second half.
Brian Davis: Charlie Strong appears to know something we don’t. That’s the vibe he gives off, anyway. He certainly feels much better about his situation now than he did last September. On paper, the facts stack up in Notre Dame’s favor — the Irish have a boatload of veterans while the Longhorns are green all over, Malik Zaire has lots of hype while Tyrone Swoopes has lots of … oh, I don’t know … hope? But Texas’ freshmen don’t realize they’re going up against mighty Notre Dame. We learned this week many don’t even know who Rudy was, much less seen the movie. I’m betting they won’t be intimidated by Notre Dame Stadium, either. Texas will hang tough, but Notre Dame has too much experience. No luck required.
Cedric Golden: From everything I’ve been told, Jerrod Heard hasn’t grasped the offense as quickly as coaches had hoped. As a result, the quarterback competition was pretty much over before it really started. Tyrone Swoopes is the guy and deserves to be the starter. That doesn’t mean Heard isn’t the better athlete. He is. So don’t be shocked to see him run for 15-20 yards on a scramble sometime Saturday. Guys like him are better when plays break down. Athleticism is often rewarded in college football, and Heard has it in spades.
So, what’s being written about today’s game? Our main advance wonders if a win at No. 11 Notre Dame might spark something along the lines of a Shock the Nation Tour II, since that season started with a road upset at nationally-ranked Penn State. We’ve got some questions facing the Horns tonight and some key matchups to watch. There also is a look at three Irish the Horns will be watching closely.
Others out there: The Dallas Morning News identified three Longhorns who really, really could use a win tonight. And DMN columnist Rick Gosselin made the case that the Horns should emulate what the Dallas Cowboys did so well last year to succeed: Run, run, run. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote about Texas’ freshmen-infused youth movement. On the other side of the fence, the South Bend Tribune wrote about the new face of Notre Dame football, quarterback Malik Zaire.
Oh, before we move on, last night marked the announcing booth debut of Mack Brown, who worked as the color guy for Baylor’s 56-21 win over SMU on ESPN. As expected, he sounded cool and comfortable and provided good insight. He also gave us a couple of Texas nuggets:
Texas recruited Baylor’s Seth Russell out of Mount Pleasant. “He was going to be a star from the first time we saw him.”
Mack’s still not over the 2009 national championship game loss. “People talk to me about the national championship game. I remember the one we lost more than the one we won. You remember the games you lose as a coach, and what could you have done differently to win those games?”
AROUND THE BIG 12: Baylor beat SMU last night in Dallas, 56-21. The Waco Tribune-Herald examined the Bears’ recent domination of Lone Star State schools (15-3 over their last 18 games .. make that 16-3 after last night’s win). The DMN’s Gosselin wrote about the Bears’ shortcomings, which appeared to be plenty for three quarters. And Baylor made news even before kickoff when its top two defensive players, Shawn Oakman and Orion Stewart, were suspended for violating team rules. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram followed TCU’s lackluster win Thursday night with a little dose of reality: At the end of the day, the Horned Frogs are still happy to be 1-0 right now, while columnist Gil Lebreton wrote about TCU’s lack of style points. The Daily Oklahoman wrote about former Texas commitment DuVonta Lampkin, the defensive tackle who’s enrolled at OU, released from his letter of intent and eager to join the Sooners. The paper also had a nice read on backup quarterback Trevor Knight, who remains a team leader despite his depth chart status. And, in the strange but true department, former Oklahoma State basketball player Stevie Clark is suing the university and men’s hoops coach Travis Ford, saying he was forced to take … wait for it … psycotropic drugs.
Kansas vs. South Dakota State, 11 a.m. (FSN)
Texas Tech vs. Sam Houston State, 2:30 p.m. (FSN)
Oklahoma vs. Akron, 6 (PPV)
Kansas State vs. South Dakota, 6
Texas at No. 11 Notre Dame, 6:30 (NBC)
West Virginia vs. Georgia Southern, 6:30 (FSN)
Iowa State vs. Northern Iowa, 7
AROUND THE FORTY ACRES:
Football: Vegas unveiled its latest odds for schools to make the four-team playoff field. Texas was at 100/1.
Volleyball: No. 3 Texas beat No. 4 Nebraska last night at Gregory Gym. Here’s our game story. The Horns face No. 4 Florida (that’s right, there are two No. 4 teams in the country this week) today at 2. Ebony Nwanebu had 22 kills and 17 digs to lead Texas.
Women’s hoops: Texas will play six times on Fox this coming season, it was announced Friday — Dec. 20 (Arkansas, in Oklahoma City); Jan. 23 (vs. Oklahoma); Feb. 6 (at Iowa State); Feb. 14 (at Oklahoma); Feb. 21 (vs. West Virginia); and Feb. 29 (at Baylor).
Soccer: Texas fell to UC-Santa Barbara late last night, 2-0. The loss dropped the Horns to 1-2-1. Senior goalkeeper Abby Smith is one of 30 candidates for the 2015 Senior CLASS award (Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School), which focuses on achievements in community, school, character and competition. That list of 30 will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the season.
Cross country: The men’s and women’s teams both cruised past Texas State on Friday in the Texas Invitational.
On Sept. 5, 1997: Mother Teresa died, at the age of 87.
On Sept. 5, 1975: Squeaky Fromme attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford, in Sacramento.
On Sept. 5, 1836: Sam Houston was elected the first president of the Republic of Texas.
Trivia answer: Bob Newhart’s Emmy-winning character on “The Big Bang Theory” in 2013 was Professor Proton.
OK, Breakfast is over. We’ll be on the menu again Sunday morning. Thanks for stopping by.
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