After beating Wake Forest 38-0 to improve to 11-0, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly gathered with family and friends for dinner at his home. He had 12 to 15 people in his theater room watching as #1 Kansas State, and then #2 Oregon both lost.
"Everyone was cheering quite loudly," Kelly said Sunday.
Asked if he was cheering quite loudly, "Heck ya," Kelly said.
It's Official: Notre Dame is #1.
The Irish are the unanimous chose by the Associated Press and received 56 of the 59 first place votes by the Coaches Sunday.
It's the first time Notre Dame has been ranked #1 since 1993 when they lost in the regular season finale to Boston College and missed out on the chance to play for a national title.
Notre Dame can book its ticket to the national title game next Saturday with a win over USC.
"It's like being selected for the playoffs," Kelly says. "Now you know you are in if you take care of business. It's more about a feeling of being included for the chase for a championship."
"Now we don’t have to answer questions about style points and politics."
Kelly says he went down to see some of the players in the training room Sunday and liked the reaction he saw.
"To a man, they know it doesn't mean much if you #1 for 3 or 4 days," Kelly said. "I was happy to see they have the type of maturity to know it's all about how we play against USC. We've been given this opportunity and now we have to make the most of it."
"There is clearly a sense of pride and accomplishment that our football team is winning games. Not on the #1, but the consistency of our program."
Notre Dame's 5th year seniors arrived at Notre Dame when the Irish were just 3-9. Kelly considers them the backbone of the program.
"There is a going to be a core guy or core group of guys that has to go through tough times," Kelly said. "This group is stronger because of the experiences its had along the way. They've had the down times and they know what that end feels like and they don't like it very much."
"I took the Notre Dame job to get an opportunity to play for a national championship and have high graduation rates. I think we are going to validate that you can do both and that they don't have to mutually exclusive."
Notre Dame could be playing a USC team without star quarterback Matt Barkley, who was injured against UCLA. Kelly says they won't change the way they approach facing USC even if Barkley is out because USC has great weapons at running back and wide receiver.
"There is a great deal of respect for USC and what they've done but our guys are confident in themselves as well," Kelly said.
NewsCenter 16 will air a special edition of "Countdown to Kickoff" at 7:30pm next Saturday live from LA.
Notre Dame is 11-0 for the first time since 1989 after a 38-0 win over Wake Forest on Senior Day.
Alabama is #2 in both polls. It's the first time since 1967 that Notre Dame and Alabama have been 1 and 2 in the AP Poll.
Following Notre Dame and Alabama in the AP Poll are No. 3 Georgia. No. 4 Ohio State. No. 5 Oregon.
The Irish received 56 of the 59 first place votes in the Coaches Poll. Alabama had two first place votes and Georgia 1.
Following ND and Bama in the Coaches Poll are: 3) Georgia 4) Oregon 5) Florida St 6) Florida 7) LSU and Kansas State drops all the way to 8th.
ND owns 3 wins over the currently Top 25: 11) Stanford, 13) Oklahoma and 20) Michigan.