Give Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly credit. He does not talk around the subject. ""They (Notre Dame players) know what our mission is and that is graduate from Notre Dame and win a National Championship'' said Kelly at the start of summer training camp earlier this month.
A year ago, the Irish posted a 12-0 record before their season ended with a 30-3 loss to Clemson, which did win the national championship.
The Irish are back with 13 starters, including quarterback Ian Book, a veteran offensive line and experienced and talented defensive stalwarts.
And Kelly is back for his 10th season, which has some historical significance. Only four other ND coaches Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz matched that longevity milestone. Combined they won 10 national championships.
Kelly is still looking for his first. He has brought two ND teams to the playoffs and was blown away twice by Alabama in 2013 and Clemson last season.
What works for ND in getting prestige--the schedule-will again work both ways this season. The Irish must travel to Georgia in the third week of the season, to Michigan in October and Stanford in November. There is als the annual meeting with USC and home games against ACC entries Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Another 12-0 run seems unlikely. But 10 wins and a Top 10 finish makes sense.