Following the season-pausing injury to sixth-year senior quarterback Tony Pike, the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats have not missed a beat, thanks to sophomore Zach Collaros.
It's an interesting situation for head coach Brian Kelly, whose record at UC stands now at 30-6 following a 28-7 victory at Syracuse on Saturday.
Late in the second quarter of what turned out to be a 34-17 win at South Florida on Oct. 15, Heisman candidate Pike re-injured his non-throwing arm. Pike then attempted one series in the second half before being relieved by Collaros, who promptly scooted through the Bulls' defense for a crowd-muting 75-yard touchdown run.
Collaros then started the next two games on the schedule, versus Louisville and at Syracuse, and has performed almost perfectly.
The Steubenville, Ohio product, who also plays centerfield for the UC baseball team, completed 15 out of 17 passes in a 41-10 rout of the Cardinals. He then chucked four touchdowns in the victory at the Carrier Dome.
Of course, Louisville and Syracuse are both, to put it nicely, absolutely horrible.
Collaros still performed well, though. So now, with the final stretch—in which the Bearcats will face three of the best in the Big East—looming, and Pike on the mend, how does Kelly work the quarterback position the rest of the way?
Will he continue to let Collaros lead the troops? Will he insert Pike as the starter as soon as he's healthy enough to play? Will he play both?
For most coaches at most programs, this could spell disaster. If you take a look at Kelly's track record, however, chances are he will make the right choice.
Last season, the Bearcats used four different quarterbacks en route to a Big East title and Orange Bowl berth (the school's first ever). Plus, in Kelly's wide open attack, the quarterback position can be an interchangeable part.
Regardless of the outcome, Bearcat fans now have a glimpse into the post-Pike era, and it's not a bad picture.