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Notre Dame Football

Conference call: Notre Dame roars toward ACC title bout

December 5, 2020
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Turns out this conference life is no sweat.

In fact, in its first-ever season of membership within a conference, second-ranked Notre Dame is cruising into the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game in two weeks as the league's only undefeated team.

It's never-before-seen success in a season the likes of which has never been seen in modern college football.

All of college athletics, as is all of society, continues to deal with the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fighting Irish are here after one early-season shutdown but otherwise as smooth a navigation of the coronavirus restrictions as any major program.

“To my coaches that had to deal with starts and stops and the flexible mindset to do that, you know, 4 a.m. texts as to what the roster looks like each and every day,” said Irish coach Brian Kelly, after he secured his third undefeated regular season since he took over the Golden Domers in 2010. “And finally incredible players that have had to commit themselves and sacrifice all year to be here. So proud of them. Blessed to be their head football coach and so happy for them to go undefeated this year and all those people that made it happen, we wouldn't be here without them.”

Notre Dame, with 23 wins against ACC teams in the past four seasons, is here after almost entirely overhauling its schedule, temporarily shelving its independent status in order to have a viable season and, with all those elements as backdrop, Kelly masterfully challenging his team.

“We're obviously extremely grateful in (ACC) Commissioner (John) Swofford giving us this opportunity,” Kelly said. “And then it's like anything else, take advantage of the opportunity. We've taken full advantage of the opportunity. Have played the 10 games that we have in front of us, and now we're playing for an ACC Championship.

“Have been really impressed with the procedures and protocols that the ACC has put in place during this COVID time. Excited to go to Charlotte and play for an ACC Championship.”

The Irish are going to Charlotte in two weeks with one of the program's all-time winningest seniors classes at their nucleus. The seniors end their career courtesy Saturday's 45-21 win against Syracuse with 24 consecutive home wins and a 25-1 ledger inside Notre Dame Stadium since 2017.

“This is part of a class that has really created a new era of Notre Dame football,” said sophomore linebacker Jack Kiser. “The success that they've had is unbelievable.

“They've really set the bar. They are the bar. Us underclassmen coming in, whether it's winter workouts, summer conditioning or the season, we're following in their footsteps and we're trying to be just like them. They're setting that bar and we're trying to achieve it and even get higher than that.”

Added tight end Tommy Tremble, “A bunch of the seniors really stepped up this year and taught me what it means to be mature and step up and use my role to the fullest. …

“It feels amazing. A bunch of the guys really decided to focus this year and we had a goal to go (to the ACC Championship). Right now, we're beyond ecstatic to be able to do that.”

 
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