Kelly: Message same for No. 1 Irish

The theater room in the Kelly household was packed late Saturday night with 12-15 people, all watching Notre Dame's BCS fate play before their very eyes.

Baylor was running away from No. 1 Kansas State, all but assuring that the Irish would control their own destiny. So Brian Kelly changed the channel. Then Stanford upset No. 2 Oregon in overtime, and now his Notre Dame squad is the No. 1 team in college football.

So, were you cheering?

"Heck yeah," the third-year Irish coach said.

Kelly compared watching Nos. 1 and 2 fall to being selected for a playoff, though he knows work remains.

The Irish need to win at USC this Saturday to clinch a spot in the BCS national title game. But having control of their own destiny is a huge relief to a coach who was growing tired of politicking.

"Oh absolutely," Kelly said during Sunday's teleconference. "But I understand it, too. It comes with the territory. You're going to have those questions posed to you and the best thing that I can do is keep our football team focused on the next game, and that's what we're trying to do."

Based on some interaction in the training room today, he feels his players understand the message.

"They didn't even talk about it," Kelly said. "A couple of the guys were congratulated by a couple of the trainers and their first response was, 'Yeah, but it doesn't mean much if you don't beat USC.' So that's all really I needed to hear. I didn't go into any more questioning about whether they watched the game or not."