One of the most anticipated quarterback battles of college football's preseason won't be settled in the preseason.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday that quarterbacks DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire will both play when the Fighting Irish open the season against Texas on Sept. 4.
"Both of their skill sets simply have slight differences, but both of them are playmakers," Kelly said, per Sports Illustrated. "If I list our top five playmakers, they're in it. My ultimate decision was I can't put one of those guys on the sideline against Texas.
"I made the decision this early because it was clear to me the more we practiced, the more they'd make plays. It was not going to change anything. Now they can just settle into getting better every day. They don't have to worry about a competition for the Texas game."
Zaire earned the starting job entering last season, but played in just two games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. He gave way to Kizer, who went on to lead Notre Dame to eight wins in 10 regular-season starts. Kizer's play helped keep the Fighting Irish alive in the race for a College Football Playoff berth until a late-November loss to Stanford, and he finished the year with 2,884 passing yards with 21 touchdown passes.
The Texas game could go a long way to determine which quarterback ultimately takes over the job, and it's a decision Kelly might not want to allow to linger. Two weeks later, Notre Dame will play host to Michigan State in what could be its toughest game of the season.
A year ago, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer took a different approach than Kelly in settling the nation's hottest quarterback debate, naming Cardale Jones the Buckeyes' starter before the season began. Jones later lost the starting nod to J.T. Barrett.