What we learned about Notre Dame: Week 4

1. This defense is for real. That is now back-to-back games without surrendering a touchdown, against Michigan State and Michigan, no less. Notre Dame has given up nine points per game through four games. As IrishIllustrated's Pete Sampson points out, last year that would trail only national champion Alabama's mark, and by just 0.85 points per game.

2. Tommy Rees is invaluable. Few other college players would be comfortable in the seemingly unstable role Rees now occupies. But the junior has handled it brilliantly thus far, carrying Notre Dame to a pair of wins en route to a 4-0 start.

3. Everett Golson is still a work in progress. No one will fault Brian Kelly for pulling his young signal-caller this time. Golson threw two really bad interceptions, completed just three passes to his own team the whole day and played out of character. He's still the starter and probably the long-term answer for the Irish, but his performance Saturday was discouraging.

4. That daunting schedule may not be so daunting anymore. USC was underwhelming for a second straight week. Oklahoma lost. Every remaining team looks beatable, with the Stanford contest in three weeks looking like a potential clash of top-10 undefeated teams. The Irish cannot afford to look ahead, but we can, and it's easy to think big picture right now with the way the first month has unfolded.