After two losses that the Irish lost ugly now they are showing they can win ugly too.
The 15-12 victory over Pittsburgh will not have quieted the critics or pleased the purists.
But it is a win, albeit an ugly one.
They also showed they can win even when Michael Floyd is knocked out of the game plan.
They will have learned more from this victory than last week's blowout against Michigan State.
The team reached deep down and found a way to win. Cierre Wood was outstanding, as was Tyler Eifert, the defense on the final series as Pittsburgh threatened, found a way to make the big play.
It all shows a maturing process, especially when it comes to young players like quarterback Tommy Rees who shook off two turnovers to lead the team to victory.
Rees will never dazzle with his footwork or impress with his magnificent vision.
He is a lunch pail quarterback who shows up and more often than not gets the job done
The victory against Pittsburgh was not a thing a beauty, more a bump and grind than a Swan Lake, but in the end they have saved the season pulling back to 2-2 when it could so easily have been 1-3.
Quarterback Tommy Rees proved just what a tough competitor he is after being knocked around for three quarters and deprived of his big receiver Michael Floyd.
Yet he found a way to win on the touchdown drive.
After throwing up great statistics in the losses against Michigan and South Florida Rees ended up losing both games.
Brian Kelly would gladly substitute the winning ugly against Pittsburgh for the wonderful stats the team rolled up in their two losses.
It is fact that Notre Dame should be 4-0 and in the top ten rankings.
But the past is bygones now.
What this team can do is play with the same heart it showed against Pittsburgh, minimize the turnovers and grind out a winning season and a significant bowl game .
We have seen far worse seasons in recent years.
Coach Brian Kelly summed it up best.
"It was a tough, blue-collar kind of day, and that's what was required of everybody, and that's what we got from our team," Kelly said, "enough to get the win and get outta here."
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