SOUTH BEND -- It was the same Notre Dame as the first two weeks.
Except this time, it was different.
"I couldn't take it any longer," Irish coach Brian Kelly quipped, regarding all his team's faux pas.
More fumbles on kick returns. But a kick-return touchdown.
More turnovers by Irish quarterback Tommy Rees. But Notre Dame forced two as well.
More shanked punts from Ben Turk. But he also landed one inside the MSU one yard-line.
But this time, Notre Dame was good enough to survive them, beating Michigan State 31-13. Because this time, there was more good than bad.
"We found a way to win," Kelly said. "When you're 0-2, you feel like things could be just going against us, (like) we've got bad luck. (But) they didn't feel that way. If they did, you maybe have a different outcome in that football game. But I think we stressed all week about you gotta make your own luck, and we did. We turned the ball over and then we made a play with the big interception.... Our guys hadn't lacked confidence, they just need to finish. I said at halftime, I think I said finish, finish, finish more times than I've said anything else to a team. And that's all we said. Finish the game, find a way to win."
"It's not about luck, it's not about getting the breaks, it's not about any of that," team captain Harrison Smith said. "It's just about going out there and doing your job. And that's something that we did today and we need to just keep doing it."
"You don't want mistakes to keep happening consistently," Irish receiver Michael Floyd said. "But that's something we can fix, I believe."
At this point, does Notre Dame have to take the bad with the good, as long as there's enough good to win?
"No," Kelly said with a laugh. "No. We've got to hold onto a punt late in the game. We can't do that. Tommy's developing, and I'm not happy with interceptions. But he knows what's happening and he's going to continue to get better."
Kelly might not want to win that way. But if this is what progress looks like, he'll take a win that way.
Sure beats the alternative.
"It was a big win for us," Kelly said.
The crucial difference is that Notre Dame gets to spend this week cleaning up those mistakes after a win. A big win, over a good team. A win that puts them back on track to reaching their big-picture goals.