Dec 28, 2019; Orlando, Florida, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly reacts to the referee against the Iowa State Cyclones during the second half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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Irish coach Kelly defends program as playoffs approach

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is well aware that his team has sustained lopsided losses on the national stage in recent years.

Still, Kelly is not about to apologize for the No. 4 Fighting Irish heading into their Friday game against No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Arlington, Texas.

“We’re knocking at the door every year, playing really good teams and great opponents, and they’re elite football teams,” Kelly said. “I don’t know why this narrative continues to pop up when we’re always in the game. No, we haven’t won a national championship. That’s correct. And, you know, I’m not changing the record. But we are there every single year and we are grinding it out just like everybody else.”

Notre Dame lost 30-3 to Clemson two years ago in the semifinal. In the 2012-13 championship game, the Fighting Irish lost 42-14 against Alabama.

Oddsmakers have pegged Notre Dame as 20-point underdogs for Friday’s game.

“It’s motivating,” Fighting Irish running back Kyren Williams said. “Not everybody in the world believes in us, and it’s OK because we don’t want anybody to believe in us besides us. We’re going to go out there on Friday and do what we do best. Being an underdog is nothing new to us, and we’re going to keep proving to the world who we are.”

Kelly said he would not let Notre Dame’s history dictate its future.

“Only one team gets to celebrate at the end of the year,” Kelly said. “We’re going to keep banging and we’re going to keep getting back here, and that’s our job. That’s our challenge each and every year is to compete for a national championship, and we’ll continue to do that.”

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