Notre Dame’s Kelly knows how to win in November


SOUTH BEND, Ind. – This is Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly’s favorite time of the year.

No, not because of the drop in temperatures or the holiday frenzy that’s due to start any day now – if it hasn’t already.

It’s November, and Kelly rarely loses in November.

“It’s not just one thing. There is no answer to it, it’s just our approach every day,” Kelly said Tuesday. “You’ve got to play well in November, too. So your practices have got to be right on, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job. We’ll see how it goes this November.”

Kelly has a 51-13 career record this month, and you have to go back to a 2007 game against West Virginia for his last loss in November or December.

That’s a 15-game winning streak for anyone who’s counting, and you can be sure the Irish (5-3) and their fans are as they head to Wake Forest (5-3) for Saturday night’s game.

Though a lopsided loss to USC ended any chance Notre Dame had at a BCS game, a strong finish would earn the Irish a postseason invite somewhere and, more important, give them an additional month of practice.

Notre Dame’s next three games are against teams with a combined 9-15 record. It finishes the regular season with a trip to No. 4 Stanford, one of six unbeatens left.

“Yeah, we would like to start better, there is no question. But I think my philosophy is always about how you finish and not how you start,” Kelly said. “Clearly our teams have played well in November. (But) each year is a different year. Our starting defensive end is out. We’ve got injuries, like other teams.

“But I know the kids, when they go to practice today, they’re mentally and physically ready to play.”

This is the first meeting between Notre Dame and the Demon Deacons, and Wake Forest is giving it the kind of hype usually reserved for a Tobacco Road basketball rivalry.

Wake is billing it as “one of the biggest games in the history” of 43-year-old BB&T Field, and some seats near the 50-yard line behind the Notre Dame bench were going for more than $350 Tuesday.

That kind of buzz gets little more than a yawn from the Irish, who play in front of almost 81,000 at home and are used to being the biggest game on all of their opponents’ schedules.

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