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Texas Longhorns will face two of college football’s best OLs in 2016

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Notre Dame and West Virginia both rank in the top 10.

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Texas v Baylor Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The 2016 Texas Longhorns football schedule is one of the toughest in the country, and two matchups could be especially tough for the ‘Horns defense -- a ranking of college football's top 10 offensive lines from Pro Football Focus includes two Texas opponents.

Topping the list is Notre Dame, which the site’s Taylor Wright recently saw in person:

Despite the losses of Ronnie Stanley and Nick Martin to the NFL draft, I believe the Irish will have the premier college offensive line in 2016. Led by Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame has the talent to be a dominant group.

I recently took a trip to South Bend to watch practice and workouts and was amazed by offensive line coach Harry Hiestand’s efforts to use the "KISS" formula. Keeping it short and simple is what the Irish o-line looks to do, and they do it well. Using an old-school style of running off the ball blended with a modern style zone blocking allows the Notre Dame line to utilize their talent up front to create seams for their talented ball carriers.

Their favorite play — the "outside zone" — is a prime example. The offensive line looks to reach the defenders and if unable, they use the defense’s momentum against them and continue to run the defender creating those seams for the backs. Notre Dame had +61.6 run block rating and +18.1 pass block rating in 2015 and I have no doubt they will be among the top in both categories this season.

The Longhorns and Fighting Irish face off in a nationally televised showdown Sept. 4 and a young Texas defensive line -- especially at defensive tackle -- will have to deal with that heralded Notre Dame group a year after giving up 214 rushing yards in 2015.

Toward the end of the season, Texas faces the West Virginia Mountaineers on Nov. 12. WVU’s offensive line also makes the list at No. 9:

Led by PFF’s highest-graded returning center in Tyler Orlosky, West Virginia returns a veteran group of linemen who had positive grades in PFF data. The offensive line helped West Virginia’s offense put up some great numbers in Dana Holgorsen System. Holgorsen runs an offense similar to Mike Leech at Washington State as he is an "Air Raid" disciple, but he does protect his offensive line with more slide protections while also running the ball more. West Virginia will even line up in power formations and run the ball. The Mountaineers favor zone blocking and they are effective at taking advantage of the defense playing pass first.

West Virginia returns three starters on the O-Line, along with what SB Nation’s Bill Connelly describes as two "half-starters." Marcell Lazard and Yodny Cajuste each started six games as freshmen, with Cajuste now taking over for departed Marquis Lucas at left tackle.

Luckily, with this game coming so late in the season the ‘Horns defense will have plenty of experience. However, the Notre Dame matchup will be a major test to open 2016 as the only Sunday game on the slate.