Notre Dame path to College Football Playoff stirs up echoes of 2012 title-game run

SOUTH BEND – The signs went up in Notre Dame’s football building about a third of the way through the 2012 season.

“Ignore the Noise,” they read.

Outside the building, a national debate raged about the undefeated Irish and their relative merits when compared to fellow national championship contenders. Ultimately, a 12-0 Notre Dame team would fall with a mighty thud to Alabama, 42-14, in the BCS Championship in South Florida.

Turning inward and locking arms, however, helped ward off nagging reality until that eventual letdown. 

“Notre Dame is a place that invites a lot of polarizing thoughts, and we’re used to people disliking us or people really loving us and there really being no middle ground with that,” says ESPN radio host Mike Golic Jr., a starting offensive lineman on the 2012 team. “You find out, whether the talk is good or bad, none of it is really beneficial when you listen to it.”

Six years later, under a four-team playoff system and a largely churned coaching staff, coach Brian Kelly has guided unbeaten Notre Dame to seven straight wins and the No. 3 ranking. Along the way, the Irish have used four one-possession wins to claw their way from a season-opening No. 11 slot in the Amway Coaches Poll.

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