Notre Dame ranked 8th in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings, but the Irish are set to climb up the ranking after No. 3 Oregon and No. 7 Michigan State both got blown out this weekend.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was asked a number of questions about where his team stands leading into tomorrow's rankings release.
On why Notre Dame should be considered as one of the top four teams
"Consistency and growth as a football team. Playing well at the end of the season. The balance of both offense and defense. Shutouts at the end of the season, playing well, that should mean a lot in terms of the overall record. Winning 11 games against power five football teams across the board. Look, at the end of the day, we're going to be right here at the end and you know how this is going to play out. We have to beat Stanford. Regardless of what that looks like, it's not going to be played as, 'oh, that was a signature win.' We think a lot of Stanford. We know their personnel. But it's not going to be perceived that way. So, we're gonna have to go beat Stanford, play well, and then rely on what happens in front of us. We lost that control when we lost to Cincinnati. But we've done everything else and we'll have to do that when we play a really good Stanford team. We're going to have to beat them."
On whether he runs up the score to try to look better for the College Football Playoff Rankings Committee
"I think just the way to play the game for me has always been about we're going to play it the right way. From our standpoint, we wanted our quarterback Tyler Buchner to be in the game, regardless of what the score was, to run the offense. If that meant throwing the ball and we were up 35 points, it was important that we played the game the right way for us, but we're never going to do it just to give people the impression that we're better than we should be. We're going to play the game the right way. I think that's just probably it more than anything else. Look, everybody talks about Georgia's defense, and Georgia's got a great defense. But we've outscored our last three opponents on defense, and no one talks much about that either. I just think that when you talk about game control, you got to bring in your defense and your offense and a balanced football team is just as good.”
If he’s concerned about impressing the College Football Playoff Rankings Committee
"I don't think it really matters. I think they have their opinions. The AP has us ahead of Michigan, right? The coaches have us ahead of Michigan. The group in that room doesn't. So, adding a few more points against Georgia Tech is not simply changing their point of view. It's really, for us, to continue to play solid, to me, on both sides of the ball and that's what we're trying to do."
On how aware he is of the College Football Playoff rankings
"I just think that it's always part of the bigger picture. You're always thinking in terms of one game at a time, but you're always trying to build your football team to be there at the end. I don't know that we spend any time talking about it at one time, but you're always trying to build your football team so when you get to November, you become a playoff for the football team. That's really it. We don't talk about it, but we're always going to work every day thinking about building our football team to be that kind of team in November."
On how this team got so much better during the season
"Well, I think it started with the bye week and finding out how to best put our quarterback in a position to succeed. Seamlessly bringing the quarterback situation into a clear vision of how we wanted to run the offense. Then from a defensive standpoint, really settling into our identity. We change coordinators and we were going through an identity change relative to how we were playing our defense. I just think that that was incremental. I don't know that there was one thing that led to it as much as consistency from week to week and a natural evolution of, as I mentioned this and maybe I got off the track a little bit, but we have young players that have been really respectful of our process and have really bought into it and that has helped us grow. If they've been resistant or they hadn't bought in along the way, this could have taken longer. I think that our veterans have really helped this football team."
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