Despite playing a very solid season up to this point, nobody is giving Notre Dame much of a shot in the Rose Bowl against Alabama. Currently, odds makers have the Crimson Tide listed as 20-point favorites.
Even though he hears all the doubters, quarterback Ian Book remains confident in the Fighting Irish’s ability to shock the world on New Year’s Day.
The same is true for Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. As far as he is concerned, the Rose Bowl will not be a referendum on his program, as they have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone.
“We’re knocking at the door every year, playing really good teams and great opponents, and there’s elite football teams,” he said this week.
“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. I’m not changing the record. But we are there every single year and we are grinding it out just like everybody else, and only one team gets to celebrate at the end of the year.
“We’re going to keep banging it and we’re going to keep getting back here and that’s our job and that’s our challenge each and every year, to compete for a national championship and we’ll continue to do that.”
Notre Dame’s only defeat of the year came against Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. In their first-ever season in the ACC, the Fighting Irish finished with a 10-1 record. The deservedness of their playoff berth was the subject of much debate.
Despite how good Notre Dame has looked, people still aren’t quite buying them as a legit contender.
The Fighting Irish previously made the College Football Playoff once before in the 2018-19 season. The then-undefeated squad ultimately lost as the No. 3 seed to No. 2 Clemson by a score of 30-3.
Beyond that, Notre Dame last faced Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. A 42-14 blowout defeat ensued.
It’s easy to see why people have doubts.
Will Kelly and Co. be able to rewrite history and shock the world this year?
We’ll find out soon enough.