Notre Dame has been able to block out what coach Brian Kelly calls noise as it has rolled to a 5-0 start.
The Irish will have more to block out after Saturday night’s 41-3 dismantling of Miami (4-2) at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Notre Dame rose from No. 9 to No. 7 in The Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday, and ESPN’s “College GameDay” will be on campus when the Irish play host to No. 17 Stanford (4-1) this weekend.
As the BCS bowl buzz – and even the possibility of playing in the national title game – swirls around Notre Dame, Kelly sounded convinced his players could handle the additional attention, which included having an NFL Films crew around the team for the last 10 days for a special to be released later.
“It’s a life in the day of the Notre Dame football program, so it’s kind of business as usual,” Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference. “But having said that, we’ll have to remind 18- to 21-year-olds about how they got here and continue that same message.”
Notre Dame reminded opponents that its offense can match its defense, which is only behind No. 1 Alabama, which gives up 7 points per game, in scoring defense, giving up 7.8 points per game.
The Irish had a season-high 587 yards, and their 376 rushing yards was the most since Nov. 11, 2000. Notre Dame also had two 100-yard rushers for the first time since 2003 with George Atkinson III running for 123 yards and Cierre Wood rushing for 118.
Of course, the output came against a Miami defense that is ranked 118th in total defense. Kelly said he isn’t has concerned about the statistics his team puts up against what is perceived as weaker defense as much as he watches how the Irish are functioning on offense.
“I go back to looking at fundamentals and blocking and protection and route running, quarterback fundamentals,” Kelly said. “If it looks like the same old thing to me then I too would be skeptical of improvement. I have a different eye in a sense that I’m looking at those things more than anything else.”
And while Kelly has down played outside forces looking at his team and hyping the Irish’s accomplishments, he isn’t shying away from the attention that he believes his team can handle.
“You want to be in that group of football programs that has ‘College GameDay’ on your campus,” Kelly said. “I think you want to be in that in-crowd. ... We’re excited about the spotlight being here at South Bend and on our program. We’ll deal with it this week to keep our guys on task.”
Notes: Tight end Tyler Eifert, a Bishop Dwenger grad, required three stitches in his elbow after Saturday’s game. … Receiver John Goodman, also a Dwenger grad, had his back “lock up” Saturday, according to Kelly. … Running back Theo Riddick suffered a bruised elbow. … Receiver TJ Jones injured his ankle. … Kelly said all four players should play this week.