When Brian Kelly took over as the head coach at Notre Dame, the program was reeling from Charlie Weis’ difficult to swallow final three seasons, but now Kelly has the Fighting Irish ranked in the top five in both the BCS and Associated Press polls for the first time since 2006.
Under Weis in his final three years, Notre Dame went 3-9, 7-6, and 6-6. Since Kelly’s arrival, the team is 8-5, 8-5, and, so far this season, 6-0. The first BCS poll of the season came out this weekend, and Notre Dame finds itself behind only Alabama, Oregon, Florida, and Kansas State.
In his Sunday conference call before the rankings came out, Kelly talked about what a top five ranking means to his players.
“They watch TV,” Kelly said. “They see that. There’s a sense of pride. There’s no question that when you’re talked about and you’re putting Notre Dame up there in the top five, there’s a sense of pride. I just have to make sure that they understand that with that pride comes a greater obligation to do the thing the right way. I think that’s how we’ll handle it.”
The South Bend Tribune reports that Notre Dame’s best ever BCS ranking was No. 3 for two weeks in October of 2002. The team was No. 2 in AP, No. 3 in the coaches poll two weeks into the 2006 season, but finished that year 15th.
The Sun-Times reports that Saturday’s 20-17 overtime victory against Stanford was Notre Dame’s third over a ranked opponent; no other school has more than two so far this season. Notre Dame hosts 4-3 BYU for its next game but will face a ranked opponent again the following week with a road trip to BCS No. 9 Oklahoma in Norman. No. 10 USC is the other remaining ranked team on the Fighting Irish schedule
Notre Dame is ranked No. 5 in the AP poll, the BCS poll, the Harris poll, and the USA Today/Coaches Poll.