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Notre Dame stays focused after No. 1 Alabama’s loss

Matthew DeFranks | Monday, November 12, 2012

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Everett Golson was watching it. Bennett Jackson found out before the game. Theo Riddick said no one knew about it. But Irish coach Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff did.

No. 1 Alabama had lost.

The top-ranked and previously undefeated Crimson Tide dropped their first game to 29-24 to Texas A&M on Saturday. The upset happened before No. 4 Notre Dame took the field for its game against Boston College, but Kelly said the coaches did not share the news with the players.

“Absolutely not,” the Irish coach said. “We didn’t talk about Alabama.”

With a 21-6 win over Boston College, coupled with Alabama’s loss, the Irish moved up to No. 3 in the BCS rankings Sunday night.

Jackson said the result of the game did not impact Notre Dame’s game plan.

“We had our minds focused on what we wanted to get done. We really weren’t too concerned about it,” the junior cornerback said.  “You can’t come out and be happy that a team lost when you still have a game to compete in.”

Prior to its win over Boston College, the Irish (10-0) were part of a logjam of four undefeated squads at the top of the rankings. While Alabama fell, No. 2 Kansas State beat TCU and No. 3 Oregon topped California.

Notre Dame is now one of three teams vying for just two spots in the BCS National Championship game in Miami on Jan. 7.

With the Irish unbeaten through 10 games, senior linebacker Manti Te’o said the national championship picture is in sight, but Notre Dame cannot get too far ahead of itself.

“It’s only as real as Wake Forest,” Te’o said. “We have to deal with them and play one game at a time, that’s college football. Anyone can beat anyone at any time.”

The Irish have been unimpressive in wins over BYU, Pittsburgh and Boston College, but have found ways to pull out wins and stay undefeated.

“A win is a win, and a win is not easy,” Jackson said. “Style points are style points. We’re going to come out and give it our all and try to come up with a victory.”

Te’o, who had five tackles and an interception in the win, said Notre Dame does not focus on style points.

“It’s always about the win, that’s all that matters to us,” he said.

Kelly said the Irish have their sights set on Wake Forest, their next opponent, and not on how many points they win by.

“We’re going to work on winning against Wake Forest and take care of what we can take care of and then when it’s all said and done, we’ll see where we are,” Kelly said. “We really can’t waste any of our energy. You see how hard it is to win in college football. We can’t worry about those things. 

“We have to focus on what we can do and that is win it on the field. If people don’t like us winning, I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu