AUSTIN, Texas -- With Texas in dire need of a signature victory to propel the proud program back into the college football echelon, the Longhorns turned to a tried-and-true strategy, man-on-man, stop-us-if-you-can, smash-mouth football with the game in the balance.
Backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes rammed his way to a 6-yard touchdown run in the second overtime to propel the upstart Longhorns past 10th-ranked Notre Dame 50-47 Sunday night before a stadium-record crowd of 102,315 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Swoopes, running Texas' "18-wheeler package" that calls for the 6-foot-4, 249-pound senior bash his way for a yard most of the time, scored on a 3-yard keeper on the first possession of overtime.
"I just wanted the chance, and I knew a touchdown would win it, and everybody worked together to make it happen," Swoopes said. "We prepared well, and I felt great moving forward and making plays. It was a big game in a big situation, and our team is built to be resilient and never stop fighting."
Notre Dame answered Texas' first-OT score with a 25-yard touchdown pass from DeShone Kizer to C.J. Sanders to send the game to a second overtime.
After Justin Yoon gave the Fighting Irish a 47-44 lead with a 39-yard field goal on Notre Dame's next possession, Texas (1-0) took over and marched to the winning touchdown, with Swoopes doing the majority of the damage, including a punishing 10-yard run two snaps before his winning one in which he ran through three Fighting Irish defenders.
Notre Dame roared from behind in the final quarter and a half behind Kizer's five touchdown passes. The Irish (0-1) sent the game into overtime when Jarron Jones blocked an extra-point kick attempt by Texas' Trent Domingue after a 19-yard touchdown run by D'Onta Foreman, and it was returned 88 yards for a two points by Shaun Crawford.
Kizer completed 15 of 24 passes for 215 yards and rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown. He was at his best when the Fighting Irish handed him the reins to their offense after he split time with Malik Zaire (2-for-5, 23 yards) through the first series of the third quarter.
Longhorns receiver John Burt had six catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. D'Onta Foreman ran for 131 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
Irish running back Tarean Folston gained 88 yards on 18 carries, with 54 of those yards coming on the second snap of the game.
Texas coach Charlie Strong said that Swoopes, a senior, has accepted his role as a backup and situational player without complaint.
"I told him, 'You're going to have your chance, you're going to have the opportunity,'" Strong said. "At the end I said, 'Listen, we're not throwing the ball. We're going to line up and let the 18-wheeler run just run over people.'"
Notre Dame opened the game with Kizer at quarterback, and he drove the Fighting Irish 78 yards in six plays to a 13-yard touchdown pass to Equanimeous St. Brown and a 7-0 lead.
True freshman Shane Buechele got the starting quarterback nod for Texas and showed no signs of nerves in his first game at the collegiate level. He wound up 16-for-26 for 280 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His 19-yard touchdown pass to Armanti Foreman at the end of the Longhorns' initial possession capped an 11-play, 75-yard march and tied the score at 7.
Texas took its first lead at 14-7 with 7:13 to play in the first half when Buechele lunged across the goal line from 1 yard at the end of a 16-play, 88-yard drive.
The Fighting Irish answered with Kizer's second scoring hookup to St. Brown, this time a 30-yard rocket down the left seam that tied the score at 14 with 3:44 to play in the half.
Texas went deep to grab the lead at intermission as Buechele found Jerrod Heard, who started 10 games at quarterback for the Longhorns last season, in stride for a 68-yard gain to the Notre Dame 1. Swoopes scooted around right end three snaps later to put the Longhorns up 21-14.
Buechele went deep again on Texas' opening drive of the third quarter, hitting Burt in stride for a 72-yard catch-and-run touchdown that expanded the Longhorns' lead to 28-14.
After Domingue put the Longhorns ahead 31-14 with a 25-yard field goal six minutes into the third quarter, Notre Dame came to life with Kizer back at the helm. He directed a 61-yard, four-play drive and took it the final 29 yards to the end zone, bringing the Fighting Irish back to within 31-21.
Buechele made his first big mistake with an interception that Crawford returned to the Texas 6. Kizer then hit Torii Hunter Jr. on a 5-yard TD pass to bring Notre Dame to within 31-28.
The Fighting Irish's bid to tie the game was thwarted when Yoon's 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Texas' Naashon Hughes on the next-to-last play of the third quarter.
Just prior to the blocked field goal, Hunter was knocked out of the game by a helmet-to-helmet hit from Texas safety DeShon Elliott that was not flagged. The non-call was a huge play in a game determined by the narrowest of margins.
"A lot of small things will come back and haunt us," Kizer said. "To throw the ball in the end zone and have Torii Hunter come across the field and be hit the way he did, that kind of hurts. If there's targeting on a defenseless receiver, that's a replay you're going to want to play over and over again."
Kizer's fourth TD pass of the game might have been his most impressive. Working under duress from a swarming Texas rush, he found Josh Adams out of the backfield on an arching, 17-yard scoring toss that gave Notre Dame a 35-31 lead with 10:57 to play.
"It's more about our personnel and matching our personnel against them," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "It's having the defensive personnel that best fits what gets our best players on the field more than anything else."
NOTES: Shane Buechele's father, former major league third baseman Steve Buechele, was given the day off from his day job as bench coach of the Texas Rangers to come and see his son run out on the field as the starting quarterback for the Longhorns. ... The Fighting Irish had their own starting quarterback question and settled for a platoon of every other series for DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire. That platoon held until Notre Dame's final possession of the first half. ... Former Texas basketball stars Tristan Thompson and Kevin Durant were recognized by the home crowd for their NBA championship and gold medal in the Rio Summer Olympics, respectively.