Texas Longhorns Football: Five most important games in 2015

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Dec 30, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Malik Zaire (8) runs for a short gain during the second half against the LSU Tigers in the Music City Bowl at LP Field. Notre Dame won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

4. September 5: Texas at Notre Dame (8-5 in 2014)

Last Meeting (1999): Notre Dame defeated Texas, 27-24 in Austin, TX

Opening week should be a good measuring stick for Texas. Should they hang tough and come away with a hard-fought win or loss, things will feel a lot less tense in Austin. Should they get blown out, however, the ‘Horns fan base won’t hesitate to hit the panic button.

Related: Notre Dame Season Preview and Prediction

Notre Dame says good-bye to now-Florida State Seminole quarterback Everett Golson, but welcome in a more-than capable replacement in lefty Malik Zaire who replaced Golson at the tail end of the season, including starting the Music City Bowl victory over LSU. Aside from Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson, he arguably comes into the season with most hype surrounding a first-year starter.

He’s not short on talent around him, either. Despite the news that tailback Greg Bryant is academically ineligible, the Irish return leading rusher Tarean Folston, as well as leading reciever Will Fuller. On defense, NFL-ready linebacker Jaylon Smith leads a top-caliber unity that also welcomes back cornerback KeiVarae Russell after he was suspended and missed last season due to an academic fraud investigation.

Winning, or even keeping the game close, won’t be easy to do in South Bend, especially not when you consider the talent that Notre Dame possesses up and down their roster. However, it will be a good barometer for how ready the Longhorns are to truly compete, and that is why it is one of the biggest games of the year.

Next: Oklahoma