Head coach Brian Kelly has Notre Dame off to its best start since 2002, when the Fighting Irish won their first eight games.
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Inside Notre Dame's football facilities, Irish coach Brian Kelly has posted four tenets he wants his players to follow:
Don't believe the hype.
Avoid the noise.
Believe in yourself.
Those four guidelines will be key for the Irish as they prepare for one of the country's most hyped college football games and one of college football's most storied rivalries.
"If they want to be successful, they need to continue to do the things they're doing," Kelly said Tuesday.
After opening the season with a 50-20 win against Navy in Ireland, the No. 11 Irish (3-0) squeaked past Purdue in a three-point win in its home opener, then last weekend shut down a Michigan State team that's widely regarded as one of the Big Ten's top contenders.
No doubt it's provided some feel-good moments for Notre Dame.
"My first comments [to players] were, 'How did it feel getting patted on the back all day? Wasn't that nice, a nice change to go to class and not hear how bad you are, or what you should have done, or what you didn't do?' " Kelly said. "So let's understand this. It feels good to be there, but how we got there, we need to continue to do these things.
"So I agree, you can't just say, don't listen to those things. You want those things. You work for those. But you have to be able to keep it in balance and perspective."
Like any coach whose team is in its third week of competition, Kelly sees room for improvement.
While he has smarts and skills, Irish quarterback Everett Golson needs game experience -- he's a sophomore who didn't play last year.
And, for a defense that's tied for 18th in the nation with Georgia Tech, having allowed 866 yards in its first three games, the Irish have the task of containing Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.
In two games against the Irish -- 2010 and 2011 wins against Notre Dame -- Robinson has 582 yards passing and five touchdowns and 366 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
"He's a superior football player," Kelly said. "He's a difference-maker. We have to find a way to limit those big-chunk plays. We have to eliminate and control those big plays that are out there."
Robinson, however, maintains a modest stance regarding Notre Dame.
"Last year, I didn't do too hot," Michigan's senior quarterback said. "I started off the game in the first half, I was 2 for 9 [passing]. That's not a good start. This year, they're playing better ball than they were playing last year, so we can't start off like that. We've got to start fast and try to continue to hold on."
When it comes to the annual rematch against the Wolverines, Kelly's team isn't dwelling on last year's loss at Michigan Stadium. In fact, he says the Irish aren't even thinking about it.
"They don't talk about it at all," Kelly said. "They just want to win. They just want to win games. There's not much that we reflect on 2011. You know, there's nothing really to reflect back on other than experiences gained for the positive. Everything is pretty much focus on getting better individually. And if we do that, there's no need to reflect back on what happened last year."
OMAMEH'S GOOD WORKS: Michigan offensive lineman Patrick Omameh was one of 11 FBS players named Tuesday to the Allstate AFCA Good Works team, which recognizes student-athletes for their contributions in the community.
J. ROBINSON SENTENCED: Michigan wide receiver Jerald Robinson was sentenced Tuesday to six months probation in Washtenaw County 15th District Court, stemming from a destruction of property charge.
The Detroit Free Press reported that Robinson pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge in August and was sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. The court ordered Robinson to do community service, to pay fines and court costs, and to pay restitution for damaging a parking gate.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.
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