SOUTH BEND – Notre Dames hopes of returning to a BCS bowl game this season likely evaporated with a 35-21 loss to No. 14 Oklahoma (4-0) on Saturday.
The No. 22 Irish (3-2) fell in their second Top 25 matchup of the season, and with no ranked teams left on their schedule until the season finale against No. 5 Stanford, Notre Dame doesnt have many chances to show it can play with college footballs elite.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly didnt care to talk about what Saturdays loss and the 41-30 loss to No. 17 Michigan on Sept. 7 did to his teams aspirations, after the Irish went 12-0 and reached the BCS championship game last season.
Thats for you guys to talk about, Kelly said. Ive got a football team here were trying to develop and work with. You guys can have your own comments and decide what that means, and you can put us in whatever bowl you want.
Were dealing with our players. Weve got to coach better, weve got to develop our players better, and well let you guys decide what that means.
The Irish are guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl game only if they finish in the top eight of the final BCS standings.
Notre Dame is also eligible to play in a BCS game if it finishes with at least nine victories and is in the top 14 of the final standings.
We are not thinking about any of that stuff, linebacker Carlo Calabrese said. We are just thinking about each week once it comes. Once Monday comes, we are thinking about that week and not past that.
The Irish have played in four BCS bowl games since the creation of the system, losing all four games.
Notre Dame didnt have more than two losses when in played in the 2001 and 2006 Fiesta Bowls, 2007 Sugar Bowl and in last seasons BCS title game.
The players were not ready to write off the season after losing two games before the end of the first month.
I think the biggest thing is that this can still be a great team. We can still have a great season, left tackle Zack Martin said. Obviously, were not going to be going to the national championship again. We can still have a great season. We cant hang our heads on this one.
Notre Dame plays Arizona State in the teams annual off-site Shamrock Series game in Arlington, Texas, next week, before taking a week off and playing host to USC on Oct. 19. The Sun Devils (2-1) and Trojans (3-1) played each other late Saturday night.
The Irish then play Air Force, Navy, Pittsburgh and BYU, which were a combined 8-7, before finishing with Stanford.
You just got make the most out of what youve got, cornerback Bennett Jackson said. We cant do anything about our past record or previous three games. We just got to go out and get better each week and try to win the rest of our games.