There is simply too much time between a bowl game and the next season for a team to have to deal with a loss.
At least, that's Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly's philosophy as his 7-5 team prepares to play Miami (7-5) in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas.
"You want to win the game because you're carrying with you in the offseason the loss. That's the No. 1 thing," Kelly told reporters Tuesday. "It's such a long time before you get a chance to eradicate that. I think that's more than anything else, there's such a long layoff before you get a chance to play again. That's very important to me, and I know it is for our players."
Self preservation also comes into play for the players, as they likely would not enjoy offseason conditioning as much if the last game was a loss.
"They don't want (strength and conditioning coach Paul) Longo with a loss on the first day of winter conditioning," Kelly said. "I think they'd rather have him with a win on his mind."
Kelly said there are no serious injuries entering the bowl game, but receiver Duval Kamara did hurt his thumb and didn't practice Tuesday.
"Duval's got a bit of a ligament, thumb," Kelly said. "… I don't see that to be a long term problem."
After Tuesday's practice, Kelly got a good idea of how ready his team is for the bowl game.
A non-tackling day turned physical, and that is a good sign.
"(Tuesday) was a good day. It was fast. There was high paced action," Kelly said. "It was supposed to be tag-off (Tuesday), and it ended up being tackling. That's a good sign. I've been on teams that didn't want to play the bowl game; they just wanted to get through it. and get the season over and get out of here. These guys want to play the game. They got a lot of gas in their tank, and that's a good thing at this point."
The Irish will practice one more time in South Bend on Wednesday, and the players will be released for Christmas break at noon.
Coaches and players will meet back up in El Paso on Dec. 26.
The three practices this week were about game planning for Miami, and Kelly said he believes a good bowl experience only happens with proper planning.
"To enjoy the experience, you have to be well-prepared before you get there," Kelly said. "If you're not well-prepared and organized with your schedule, then it becomes a bit of a distraction. Where am I going to be? Where are we practicing? What time are we practicing? We try to create a very solid schedule for them and do a lot of the preparation work before we get there. We want them to enjoy the bowl experience. If you can enjoy it knowing you've got a lot of that work taken care of, I think it helps you leading into the game."