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Brian Kelly Reacts To The Challenge Of Facing No. 1 Alabama

Brian Kelly standing with his Notre Dame football players.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 07: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks on from the sidelines against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The 2020 College Football Playoff features Alabama and Clemson facing off in the Rose Bowl for a rematch of the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. So Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly realizes the challenge of facing a Nick Saban team with such high stakes.

Appearing on the ESPN Selection Show today, Kelly addressed the challenge of facing Alabama. He said that domination on the offensive line will be key as it has vexed him in the past.

“The physicality has to show itself on the offensive line,” Kelly said, via “Their offensive line when we played them in ’12 just dominated one of the top defenses, we were No. 2 or 3 in the country defensively, one of the top rush defenses in the country and we got manhandled. What was clear and you didn’t even have to be somebody who knew anything about football, was the disparity in the offensive and defensive lines. Building it that way over the last six years, when we got to ’17 and ’18, we felt like we were much more physical up front, got to the Fiesta Bowl, got back into the Playoffs. And that’s been really what we’ve taken from that journey in ’12, building it with the physicality of the offensive and defensive line.”

Notre Dame were practically bullied by Alabama's offense in their 2013 meeting. Despite having the No. 2 defense in the nation that year, they gave up 42 points in that loss.

But Brian Kelly believes that his team will be much better prepared for Alabama this time.

“Now, we’re much better prepared than we were in 2012 in terms of the physicality on both lines. I think we have the ability to move the football, certainly. Those things are going to have to be in play.”

Kelly and his Fighting Irish will need to be prepared to beat this Alabama team. The Crimson Tide rolled through the SEC with relative ease, cruising to an 11-0 record while averaging 50 points a game.

It's going to take a little more than improving on the offensive line to win the Rose Bowl and secure a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Can Brian Kelly and Notre Dame finally beat Nick Saban and Alabama?