Undefeated Irish stay away from big-picture talk

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Last year's BCS talk began before Notre Dame even played a game, and the Irish promptly blew their chances by dropping their first two contests.

Five games and five wins into this season -- with bowl eligibility and a prime BCS ranking assured with a win Saturday -- and the big-picture talk has yet to crack the walls of the Guglielmino Athletics Complex when coach Brian Kelly meets with his players.

"It's not brought up at all," Kelly said Tuesday. "We don't talk from that level of 30,000 feet because it really doesn't do us any good. Really all that we can focus on is what we can control on a day‑to‑day basis. Now when I do maybe press conferences or talk to the media, sometimes I let our team know, 'Listen, I'll talk in those terms. But amongst us, it's about today and what we do today.' "

Kelly said the plan with No. 17 Stanford coming to town is to simply get better, the same as it's been under his reign.

Noting a 13-2 record over the Irish's last 15 regular-season contests, Kelly is confident his players will respond and be up to the challenge presented by a rival who's had their number the last three seasons.

Following those tasks is validation of the understanding that big things — say, a BCS bowl — may follow, even if those big things go unspoken in the lead-up to Saturday's contest and Sunday's unveiling of the first BCS standings.

"They understand that based upon some of the things that I've mentioned that if they continue to do the things on a day‑to‑day basis — that's the hard thing," the third-year Notre Dame coach said. "We're talking about 18-to-21 year-olds that are easily distracted, so the charge is to keep them focused on what they need to do to get better as a football player.

"I've worked this plan for a number of years. I've had great success with it. If they choose to continue to follow it, they're going to continue to have success. So it's the trust element of, just stay focused on what we can handle and what we need to handle and we'll be fine."