Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said his team was getting ready for what he termed a "one-game series" when the No. 1 Irish (12-0) play No. 2 Alabama in the BCS championship game Jan. 7 in Miami.
Notre Dame is scheduled to practice today, Thursday and Friday this week before breaking for Christmas. The Irish report back to campus Dec. 27 and will have four more practices before departing for Miami on Jan. 2
"Our guys have to get back to the conditioning element," Kelly said during Notre Dame's BCS media day Monday. "We have to find our timing as it relates to practicing and also be smart enough to know that we certainly want to peak at the right time. A lot of the preparation of our football team leading up to today was the balancing of academics, athletics, conditioning, (and) weight training as we move forward."
One of the things Kelly wants to advance is Notre Dame's ability to score in the red zone.
The Irish have only scored touchdowns on 27 of their 58 red zone trips this season compared to Alabama's 41 red-zone touchdowns on 57 trips.
"We think we've addressed those through just maturity and understanding," Kelly said of the red-zone efficiency. "We're continuing to work on our red-zone efficiencies and specifically just spending more time in practice so (quarterback Everett Golson) becomes more comfortable in that area of the field."
While Kelly is willing to talk about the need for red-zone scoring, he said he will not be talking to his team a lot about being the underdog against Alabama.
The Crimson Tide opened as a 10-point favourite and was a 7 1/2-point favorite as of Monday night.
"Preparation is more important than any kind of fire-and-brimstone speech that I could bring to them," Kelly said. "The preparation is really where this is going to be at and getting your football team to be at its peak on Jan. 7.
"Although I don't disregard (playing up being the underdog) can have influences on other situations, I don't see that as primary to what I'm spending my time on. That is making sure that over this month that our football team is peaking for a one game winner take all."