The Irish finally scored late in the third quarter, a two-yard run by Everett Golson that served no other purpose except to end Alabama’s remarkable scoreless streak in title games.
Notre Dame made tremendous strides under Kelly, going from unranked in the preseason to the top spot in the rankings by the end of the regular season.
However, that long-awaited championship will have to wait at least one more year.
“We’ve got to get physically stronger, continue close the gap there,” Kelly said. “Our guys clearly know what it looks like now — a championship football team. That’s what you measure yourself against there. It’s pretty clear across the board what we have to do.”
Golson completed his first season as the starter by going 21 of 36 for 270 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.
However, he got no help from the running game, which was held to 32 yards — 170 below their season average.