A decade ago, Notre Dame was coming off an impressive 34-24 win in Tallahassee over then-No. 11 Florida State, vaulting the Irish to an 8-0 record. The next week Notre Dame was No. 4 in the AP poll...and promptly lost to an unranked Boston College 14-7 in South Bend.
That wasn't the first time BC crushed Notre Dame's championship hopes following a win that sent the Irish into the national championship picture. After beating No. 1 FSU in 1993, Notre Dame went to Boston and lost, eliminating any chance the Irish had at a title.
This year's Notre Dame team doesn't get Boston College until Nov. 10, instead facing Pittsburgh following last Saturday's 30-13 win over No. 8 Oklahoma. But with Notre Dame entertaining its best national championship hopes since 2002, coach Brian Kelly isn't looking to the past for answers.
"History will have no effect on how this team plays," Kelly said. "What will affect how this team plays is how they prepare during the week, and that is what I can control and that's what our players can control. So our focus is on what we can control. If we don't prepare well and have a good week, that's going to spill into how we play Saturday."
Those past letdowns are hardly exclusive to Notre Dame -- plenty of championship bids have been spoiled by unpredictable upsets. Ask the coaches from those games, and they'll probably say the preparation leading up a late-season game wasn't good enough.
"There were times that we did not practice well, especially on the offensive side of the ball and did not play well," Kelly recalled of previous weeks this season. "And so they know that there's a direct correlation to how they practice and how they perform. Certainly I've had some teams that are just better physically, more talent. We're not in that position yet. So we feel like it's directly tied to how we're going to play, especially on the offensive side of the ball."
Golson not the face of Notre Dame...yet
Everett Golson has largely been walled off to the media this season, with the first-year starter only fielding questions after his better games (Oklahoma, Miami, Michigan State). Last year, Notre Dame made quarterback Tommy Rees available every week -- but Golson's development with the media has taken a backseat to his development as a quarterback.
"I don't see it happening this year," Kelly said of Golson being made available more frequently to the media. "I see us really focusing on a lot of the little things that we have to get better at. And he has and he's committed to it. He's committed to wanting to do those things. But I'm not ready to put him out there yet. He's getting there, there's no question, and we want to continue on that trend."
If Golson's development goes as planned, he'll eventually have to be a regular with reporters. And Kelly has a benchmark in mind for when that'll happen.
"I'm almost of the opinion that we gotta see this start to happen consistently," Kelly said of Golson's improvement. "And when we do that, I think we're probably closer to that point."