Notre Dame's fate in the BCS Championship was probably sealed well before the Irish took the field against Alabama.
Attrition ravaged Notre Dame's offensive line depth last year, meaning the buildup to the BCS Championship didn't involve as much live-action plays and tackling as the coaching staff would've wanted. Alabama had a full month to prepare, and playing in its third title game in four years knew what it took in practice.
With that in mind, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said on Monday's the Dan Patrick Show he figured his team would've had a chance to defeat Alabama if the game were played earlier.
"I think the circumstances needed to be a little bit different," Kelly said, when asked by Patrick if Notre Dame could've beat Alabama. "I think if we played in a playoff format, maybe the next week after the USC game, I think that would've been a better situation for us."
Kelly wasn't saying Notre Dame would've beat Alabama had the game been played on Dec. 1 instead of Jan. 7. But perhaps it's worth noting Alabama had to fight to hold off Georgia in the SEC Championship that week, as the game ended with the Bulldogs less than 10 yards from the finding the end zone for what would've been a game-winning touchdown.
"Look, could've, would've, should've, Alabama won the game, they were the better team that day," Kelly said. "I think they were in terms of preparation, that team was very well prepared. They had been in the moment before. And I'm not going to take anything away from their performance on that particular day."
Check out Kelly's full interview with Dan Patrick below, in which he touches on his interest in the NFL, Everett Golson's return to campus and the evolution of the game of football: