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Irish Insights

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All business for Irish

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has typically given his teams some time to enjoy the bowl experience.

Kelly said Saturday that he usually used the first night or two to reward the players and allow them to stay out late, usually with a 2 a.m. curfew.

That will not be the case when the No. 1 Irish (12-0) head to Miami to play No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in the BCS championship game. Kelly said the curfew will be 11 p.m. all week in Miami.

"This is not a bowl game," Kelly said Saturday. "You're playing for the national championship. … We are there on a business trip, and that's kind of how we've approached it.

"I told them that it was going to get to this, and you have to let me know if you want to do this. Because when we go down there, here's the rules. They all understand what it's all about going down to Miami. It is not enjoy South Beach. It is about preparing for a national championship game."

Notre Dame's preparations to win its first national title since 1988 was ratcheted up a notch Saturday and will continue today.

Kelly said Saturday's and today's practices were and will be the most physical the team has had since beating USC in the season finale.

"For us, it has been a long layoff, but one that we think we have properly put the pieces together leading into (Saturday) and (today), which are really intense practices, physical practices, where we're out there contacting and doing the things we need to do to be ready for Alabama on Jan. 7," Kelly said. "All of our work up to this point has had a focus towards peaking on the seventh."

Before the Irish started getting more physical with just more than a week to go before playing the Crimson Tide for the national title, Kelly said the focus was on keeping the players' timing and conditioning up with the long break between games.

Kelly said he also used the time to have every player that is able to practice engaged it what Notre Dame is doing.

"You had a lot of guys like (freshman quarterback) Gunner Kiel and (freshman running back) Will Mahone and (sophomore offensive lineman) Conor Hanratty and (freshman defensive end) Jarron Jones, a lot of those guys getting a lot of work," Kelly said.

But now, the Irish will put all of their focus on the Tide, and Kelly said he is using about 10 minutes of each 90 minute practice to pit his starting offense against his starting defense.

"Just to keep the speed in the game. I don't want practices to slow down. When it becomes all scout team, it has a tendency to become a little bit slower pace," Kelly said.