All things considered, Everett Golson couldn’t have played much better.

This past Saturday, the Notre Dame quarterback – who missed the entire 2013 season for academic infractions – looked like the same player who led the Irish to the BCS Championship Game in 2012. Actually, he didn’t. He looked a heck of a lot better.

Golson led Notre Dame to a 48-17 home win over Rice, throwing for 285 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for three more.

“Yeah, he did look good,” former Notre Dame standout Aaron Taylor said on The MoJo Show. “I was happy to see that.”

Both of Golson’s touchdown passes came in the first half; one was a 75-yard bomb to William Fuller late in the first quarter, and the other was a 53-yard pass to C.J. Prosise with five seconds left before halftime. Notre Dame led 28-10 at the break and 38-10 after three quarters.

“The offense without question is the strength of their team this year, and I think a big reason why is because of Everett Golson and his maturity,” said Taylor, a consensus All-American offensive guard for the Irish in 1992 and 1993. “We (talked) about that involuntary academic redshirt year that he was asked to take for, ironically, cheating. But I think he learned his lesson.”

“BJ, you know how it was,” Taylor said to Brian Jones. “We don’t appreciate what we have because we think we’re going to play forever. The world’s always kind of bowed down to us, and then all of a sudden you lose the very thing that you love the most. It puts a lot of things in perspective that certainly happened with Everett. He came (back), he looked poised, he looked decisive, he was a much more vocal leader – his approach to the game has been as sharp as it’s been. He looked outstanding.”

The Irish will need Golson to be outstanding against a schedule that includes six ranked opponents, including No. 1 Florida State.

“Brian Kelly finally has the quarterback he needs,” Taylor said. “I think that’s going to be important – because I think it’s going to take a little bit for Notre Dame’s defense to come around, so they’re going to need to be able to score some points this year early.”

Notre Dame’s biggest early season challenge, without question, is this Saturday against Michigan (1-0). It is the last scheduled meeting between these two stories programs.

Taylor, who won a Super Bowl with Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, recalled his first game at Notre Dame Stadium. It was a night win over Michigan.

“I am sad to see this rivalry go away for however long it’s going to be,” said Taylor, 41. “Historically, Bo Schembechler kind of had resistance to play this thing early, and I think as of late Notre Dame kind of expressed that interest – which is sad, but it’s the nature of the beast. The bottom line is the bottom line in college football. Times are what they are. We’re seeing a lot of rivalries go away.”

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