Notre Dame is approximately 24 hours away from their first ever BCS title berth. Tomorrow's national championship game will pit the Irish against historic rival Alabama. The last time these two teams met in bowl season—ironically also in Miami—was the 1975 Orange Bowl on New Years Day.
On that date, Notre Dame upset the No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide 13-11.
So will history repeat itself in Miami?
"There will be a little bit of nervousness that will go along with the start of the game, but they've handled this whole process very well, and I expect that to continue tomorrow. "
Star linebacker Manti Te'o seconds Kelly, telling Hamilton the team "has a good confidence level" going into the title game.
Not content to rest on confidence alone, Kelly has shaken things up a bit offensively and on special teams.
During the 15-minute viewing period at Notre Dame's practice on Friday, Hamilton observed several unorthodox plays from the Irish squad, including motion and misdirection plays near the goal line. Runningbacks Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood were split out wide, there was an unbalanced offensive line and triple-options with Riddick, Wood and quarterback Everett Golson all deep in the backfield.
Kelly also eluded to ESPN's Matt Fortuna that there may be a change up on special teams.
"We think it’s all hands on deck for our special teams, first of all. It’s a one-game deal, so certainly we could add to the personnel on our ST and we’ll probably look to do that."
While Kelly and the Fighting Irish play for glory alone, Alabama has a little more weight on it's shoulders after a tough bowl season for the SEC.
The once superhuman SEC now sits at a terrestrial 5-3 bowl record. This reflects particularly unfavorable on Alabama, who relies on the SEC's "meat grinder" reputation to justify it's strength of schedule. In particular, LSU and Georgia, who count among Alabama's most significant wins.
No. 8 LSU was beaten by underdog No. 14 Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, while No. 6 Georgia let No. 23 Nebraska score 31 points in their Capital One Bowl victory.
This has led to rumblings in the media that the SEC as a whole was over hyped this season.
Mike Lopresti of USA Today went so far as to put the Tide on upset alert after watching the SEC bowl season mediocrity, and Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post stated he's putting his money on the Fighting Irish.
Fortunately for all involved, the speculation will end tomorrow when Notre Dame meets Alabama at 8:00 p.m. EST on ESPN at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
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