There aren’t a lot of people that truly believe that Notre Dame is the best team in college football this season – check that – there aren’t a lot of people that have a vote in one of the national polls that believe so earnestly in the Fighting Irish.
However, there are a couple of kindred spirits, if you will, that have so much confidence in this year’s squad that they voted Notre Dame first in the Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll and the USA Today Coaches Poll.
“I voted for Notre Dame because its schedule has been strong and they have a powerhouse defense,” News-Sentinel reporter Pete DiPrimio explained.
DiPrimio cast the only first place ballot (of 60 voters) for the Fighting Irish in wake of their 10th victory (21-6 over Boston College on Saturday), coupled with Alabama losing to Texas A & M.
“They have also played big in big games,” DiPrimio added.
DiPrimio had Notre Dame second until this week, but when he watched the Crimson Tide fall, he moved Notre Dame up to the top spot.
Before any fans begin to chastise DiPrimio for casting a ridiculous ballot, you need to keep in mind that he sits in some pretty good company today.
In the coaches’ poll, there likewise was a singular vote for Notre Dame, and it came from a fairly knowledgeable source.
“I voted Notre Dame first,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “I had (us) second last week to Alabama. Of course Alabama lost. I'll typically move up the next lot.”
When pressed for an explanation on Sunday, Kelly marched lock-step with DiPrimio.
“Here's what I do like,” Kelly explained, “we've played a tough schedule. Wins on the road against Oklahoma and Michigan State and certainly showing how to beat a tough team in Stanford, those wins are big wins for us. I think we're tested, and I like the way our quarterback is developing. He's getting better and better each and every week. Those are all positive things.”
DiPrimio obviously concurs, but he isn’t quite ready to proclaim Notre Dame a shoo-in for the national title game.
“It would help if USC can keep winning (other than against the Irish on Nov. 24),” DiPrimio said of building Notre Dame’s strength of schedule. “But even then, Notre Dame still probably wouldn’t get in unless Kansas State or Oregon loses.”
Kelly has grown weary of the questions regarding the subject of his team and its chances to reach the title game. He has stuck to the belief that winning cures all and that is his message to anyone that questions what the Irish have achieved this season.
“I think if you want style points, look at our defense,” Kelly said. “Look at the schedule that we played, 10 FBS teams. I think it's pretty clear that this football team has been built around its defense, and we're lived up to that each and every week. We'll just keep working on one at a time and let other people figure out where that puts us.”