Notre Dame looking to go undefeated at home for the first time since 1998
Posted: 11/14/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Rachel Terlep
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Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o is congratulated by teammates Dan Fox and Bennett Jackson, right, after his interception during the second half of Notre Dame's 21-6 win over Boston College in a NCAA college football game in Boston Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Reflecting back on 1982, when he was a senior linebacker at Assumption College, Notre Dame’s head coach couldn’t recall if he was sad or nervous or nostalgic the last time he took the field with the Greyhounds.
Three decades later, Kelly only remembers one thing from that day: Assumption lost.
Kelly made sure to impart that piece of advice on the 26 seniors preparing to play at Notre Dame Stadium for the final time Saturday afternoon.
“‘Yes, it is your last home game, but we got a lot in front of us,’” Kelly recalled telling his veterans. “‘What you’ll remember most is whether you win the game, not that it was your last home game. So make sure that you keep the distractions to a minimum. And if there is any emotion let that be after the game. Let’s have the emotion after the game celebrating a great victory.’”
The No. 3 Irish (10-0) will face Wake Forest (5-5) in their final home game of the year, the final time Notre Dame Stadium will see the likes of Manti Te’o, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Theo Riddick and Tyler Eifert wearing navy and gold.
“(We’re) excited about the opportunity to send them off in a positive way,” Kelly said during his Tuesday press conference.
Wake Forest won’t be a cake walk, either. On top of the Irish being unable to win by more than a touchdown at home, the Demon Deacons will be fighting for a bowl bid, the coveted six-win mark.
Quarterback Tanner Price went a modest 17-24 for 187 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame last year. The Irish beat the Deacons at Winston-Salem, N.C., 24-17.
Price returns this year and is completing 55 percent of his passes for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. Kelly called the quarterback “elusive in the pocket.” He also nodded to the Deacons’ secondary.
“Very athletic, as good as some of the very best in the country in the back end of their defense,” Kelly said of the Deacon defense. “Two very good corners. Athletic safeties. They match up very well against the topskilled players in the country.”
On top of Notre Dame’s quest for 11-0 and the hope of sending the seniors off win a win, the Irish hope to wrap up a goal they’ve been pursuing all year: Finish the season undefeated at home for the first time since 1998.
“One of our goals, a tangible goal for us, was to protect our home field,” Kelly said. “We felt, I felt, I think everybody in the program felt that if you want to take that next step in terms of success, you got to win at home.
“I think we all talked about the statistics of Oklahoma, and the numbers were mind boggling in terms their home field advantage until we beat them. We want to have that kind of legacy. We want to build that kind of dominance at home. The first step is winning all your games at home, which hasn’t happened in a long time.”
The Irish had been undefeated at home under Lou Holtz from 1987-1989 before losing twice in 1990. Head coach Bob Davie’s 1998 squad went 6-0 at home, something neither former coaches Ty Willingham nor Charlie Weis could achieve.