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How Much Should Nick Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley Play in the Bowl Game?

Dan Mullen has to balance reps between Dak Prescott in his last game and the quarterbacks of the future.

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

One more game separates the end of the Dak Prescott era and what will be a heated quarterback competition going into 2016 and beyond.

It remains to be seen how much, and if, those QB reps in the Belk Bowl will be distributed between Dak Prescott, Nick Fitzgerald, and Elijah Staley.

It's easy to think Mullen will want to provide his young quarterbacks with game reps one last time before a three-month layoff until spring practices. At the same time, he wants his fifth year senior to soak up every minute he can on the last day he'll put on an MSU uniform.

The score will obviously play a big factor as well. If the game is close like we all expect it to be, Dak may never leave the field. I don't see Mullen handing the reigns over to Staley or Fitz for a full drive in that scenario.

But maybe he should.

Neither of those guys had the opportunity during the regular season to play with a game on the line or test their maturity in a pressure-packed situation. Most of their reps came in mop-up duty against non-conference foes with the game well in hand.

The fans certainly want to witness Dak Prescott put on a show one last time. But they also want some reassurance that next year's QB1 spot is in solid hands.

If nothing else, Mullen should put in some packages that get Fitz and Staley involved in a meaningful part of the game. Both can run as good as Dak, so maybe let them show that running ability on third down or in the red zone.

Best case scenario: Mullen lets his redshirt freshmen play a few snaps here and there. The Bulldogs have the game well in hand by the time the fourth quarter rolls around, and then they can take over the offense for full drives.

Fitzgerald and Staley are still young and likely to make mistakes if given too many opportunities, but the benefit of playing time far outweighs the damage of a turnover here or there.