Notre Dame held off Michigan Saturday night thanks to the legs of its backup quarterback on what was the game's only touchdown.
Everett Golson struggled in his fourth start for the Irish, only completing one more pass (three) than he threw interceptions (two). Tommy Rees, the famed reserve who made highly-touted recruit Dayne Crist expendable, was at it again for Brian Kelly, completing 8-of-11 passes.
Although Coach Kelly dismissed a two-QB system Sunday during interviews, this isn't the first time he's used Rees in this role.
In each of his first two seasons, Rees has been effective off the bench for the Irish. He always seemed to be able to take the reins from Crist effectively, but when made the starter, he had some struggles.
Conventional wisdom suggests it's wise to prepare both Rees and Golson for the upcoming game against Miami in two weeks, despite cries from Kelly that Golson is still his guy.
Of course, this isn't the first time Rees has come in for Golson; he did so against Purdue two weeks prior. You can't argue with a 4-0 mark on the season for the Irish, but the most important position on the field can't be taken lightly, either.
This isn't the same Notre Dame team that Kelly inherited when he took the job as coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats. He's had three recruiting cycles to get the guys he wanted in place, and he has a fine senior linebacker in Manti Te'o to rely on to run his defense.
But after this 4-0 start, this isn't a time to play with the offense anymore. If Rees gives you the best chance to go undefeated and push for a national title, play him. If Golson gives you a better chance to beat more athletic teams like Miami and USC, let him take his lumps and let the defense carry the torch.
Who should be the Irish starter the rest of the way?
Golson is a redshirt freshman. His experience is limited to four career starts, and he's already been pulled for Rees in two of them.
It's certainly a cliche, but at this point, Golson has to be looking over his shoulder and thinking Rees is coming after him. Confidence at the QB position is a fickle thing, and it would be a shame to see Golson lose it because Kelly kept pushing the panic button.
Whether the Irish put the label of a two-QB system on their offense or not, if Rees keeps coming in to save the day for Notre Dame, that's exactly what they'll have.
This season is going to be about the defense in big games, not the offense, but having a rhythm to help keep the defense off the field and at least score points will be a factor in at least one or two of the games down the stretch.
Luckily for the Irish, they have two weeks to prepare for Miami. Hopefully one of these QBs emerges, and hopefully it's Golson. If Kelly was to change his mind midweek, I think that would pull the plug on the season for the opening day starter's confidence going forward.