SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame's final stretch of the regular season could be something of a revenge run, just not for the Irish.
So far, they are 0-1.
Pitt took down the Irish on Nov. 9 at Heinz Field after losing at Notre Dame last season in a contest in which the Panthers missed a potential game-winning field goal (and the officials missed a potential costly Irish penalty) that would have won the game in double overtime. Instead, the Irish survived one session later.
BYU blew a seven-point halftime lead at Notre Dame Stadium, then Riley Nelson missed a wide open Cody Hoffman late for what would have been a go-ahead score in a 17-14 loss.
"Watched it this week," Irish coach Brian Kelly said of that play." Certainly, obviously a big play during the game. But I think there were some other plays in the game, missed opportunities, really on both ends. But certainly do remember that particular play that you're referencing."
And then there was Stanford, which felt it got robbed on several occasions in its overtime loss at Notre Dame last season, when the Cardinal were stuffed on a controversial final play at the goal line. Stanford coach David Shaw voiced his displeasure after the game, saying that a whistle from the crowd had frozen his players on a crucial third-down play late in the fourth quarter.
Kelly insisted his team's focus is about taking care of the Cougars this Saturday on senior day, as the Irish have tried not to get caught up in sidebars surrounding their final three regular-season opponents.
"I think those things are --and they have always been, for me -- secondary," the fourth-year Irish coach said. "I think they have always been handled intrinsically by the players that you have; doesn't mean I'm not good for a motivating talk or two.
But I think that the players that you have, the leaders that you have, and the way you play the game, certainly dictate that much more than past history and motivation. Doesn't mean I don't discount it, but I don't see it as primary.
"I think the primary is the drive, the pride, the intrinsic motivation to want to win nine games, has got to be primary. Not, 'Hey, let's be ready because BYU thinks they should have beat us last year.'"