Regardless of victory misfortunes in Notre Dame’s previous two marquee games, coach Brian Kelly said on Monday that the Irish don’t have anything to demonstrate in Friday’s College Football Playoff semifinal against No. 1 Alabama.
Notre Dame last confronted Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, a 42-14 misfortune. Two years prior, the Irish lost 30-3 to Clemson in the CFP semis at the Cotton Bowl.
“We’re knocking at the door every year, playing really good teams and great opponents, and they’re elite football teams,” Kelly said. “I don’t know why this narrative continues to pop up when we’re always in the game. No, we haven’t won a national championship. That’s correct. And, you know, I’m not changing the record. But we are there every single year and we are grinding it out just like everybody else.”
No. 4 Notre Dame is a 20-point underdog to Alabama, one of the biggest underdogs this bowl season. As indicated by ESPN Stats and Information, this will be Notre Dame’s seventh appearance in a BCS or New Year’s Six bowl game since 1998, when the BCS time started. The Irish are 0-6 in those games, having been outscored by an aggregate of 144 points. None of the six was decided by less than 14 points. This year, they have the challenge of confronting an Alabama team that was wire to wire as the No. 1 team and has three Heisman Trophy finalists in Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith and Najee Harris.
“Only one team gets to celebrate at the end of the year,” Kelly said. “We’re going to keep banging, and we’re going to keep getting back here, and that’s our job. That’s our challenge each and every year is to compete for a national championship, and we’ll continue to do that.”
Kelly said before the 2018 semifinal against Clemson that the program had gone through a few changes, remembering for the strength and conditioning program, on-field staff and in recruiting.
“We’re still being compared to what happened in 2012, fair or unfair,” Kelly said then. “We need to set a new kind of parameter there.”
However, that game finished in disappointment. This year, Notre Dame procured the No. 4 spot in spite of suffering the greatest misfortune by a possible playoff team in the playoff time (24 points in a 34-10 misfortune to Clemson in the ACC title game).
Regardless of a top-five ranking all season and a 47-40 double-overtime prevail upon the Tigers on Nov. 7, the Irish realize this is their most significant opportunity to demonstrate they belong among the best programs in the nation.
“It’s motivating,” running back Kyren Williams said. “Not everybody in the world believes in us, and it’s OK because we don’t want anybody to believe in us besides us. We’re going to go out there on Friday and do what we do best. Being an underdog is nothing new to us, and we’re going to keep proving to the world who we are.”