Underdog role is familiar to undefeated Notre Dame | College football
Oddsmakers list defending national champion Alabama as a 10-point favorite for the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship Game, but players for unbeaten Notre Dame aren't sweating the betting line.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The rankings say Notre Dame is No. 1 going into the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama.
Plenty of people aren't buying it, starting with oddsmakers who have the defending national champion Crimson Tide (12-1) listed as a 10-point favorite for the Jan. 7 meeting in Miami Gardens, Fla., between two famed programs.
The Fighting Irish (12-0) aren't sweating the betting line. It is pretty much business as usual for Notre Dame, which has a chance to become the first team since 1984 to start a season unranked and end it as the national champion.
"Everybody thought everybody was better than us," defensive lineman Louis Nix III said Monday. "Oklahoma was better than us. USC was better than us.
"We get it. We know how everyone thinks. We're just Notre Dame. Overrated Notre Dame. No one gives us credit for anything. Just the luck of the Irish, I guess."
Whether Notre Dame can or will use the slights — real or perceived — as motivation remains to be seen.
"I've used the technique before during my time as a head coach," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said about playing the underdog card. "I don't know that that is pertinent because it's a one-game deal. It's all or nothing.
"Both teams have different dynamics to deal with because of the long layoff. Preparation is more important than any kind of fire-and-brimstone speech that I can bring to them."
Offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said the coaches don't need to bring it up. The Fighting Irish have played all season like a team with something to prove.
"I think it's a little bit part of our kids' DNA now," Martin said. "We don't have to use it as much as maybe early in the year, when we went on the road to Michigan State and they were ranked eighth and nobody was thinking we were very good. I think we've kind of just built it into who we are. Everybody likes telling us what we're not good at — which is fine by us.
"One of our strengths is knowing what we're not very good at. We try to play to our strengths and play away from our weaknesses."
• Nix and Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin will return to school next year rather than making themselves eligible for the 2013 NFL draft.
• West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey, who caught 106 passes for 1,501 yards and 23 touchdowns this season, will forgo his final season to enter the NFL draft.
• Ron Caragher, who was 44-22 at San Diego, was introduced as San Jose State's coach.
Caragher, 45, replaces Mike MacIntyre, who left to coach Colorado.
• Matt Rhule, 37, was introduced as Temple's coach. The former assistant offensive-line coach for the NFL New York Giants replaces Steve Addazio, who left Temple to take the job as Boston College's coach.
• Western Michigan has hired 32-year-old P.J. Fleck, previously receivers coach of the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as its coach, according to a source.
Fleck, who will replace the fired Bill Cubit, will be the youngest coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
• Ron Gould, 47, has been hired as coach by UC Davis. The former California running-game coordinator replaces Bob Biggs, who retired.
• A North Alabama player is off the team after sending a racist tweet about President Barack Obama.
Coaches made the move after Bradley Patterson, a walk-on long snapper, described Obama with a racial slur while complaining the president's speech about last week's Connecticut school massacre interrupted his viewing of an NFL game Sunday night.