Kelly was the head coach of Cincinnati when the Bearcats went to the 2009 Orange Bowl, the school's first BCS appearance. Kelly would lead the Bearcats to the 2010 Sugar Bowl, but that coaching performance caught the eye of the administrators of Notre Dame, who hired him for their vacant head coaching position, forcing Kelly to leave the Cincinnati before the team headed to New Orleans.
Kelly's sense upon getting off the plane? The Irish have been ready to play in the biggest game of their lives for days.
“Especially yesterday, you could sense that it was time,” Kelly said. “They were happy just to get on the bus and that doesn't happen very often.”
“Getting on the plane, we finally realized that, in fact, we are going to play a football game,” Kelly continued. “You know, it's such a long time (between the end of the regular-season and the BCS Championship Game), I think everyone was just anxious to get here.”
Toma sensed the same restlessness in both his teammates and himself.
“Last night, I really started getting anxious watching the NIU-Florida State Orange Bowl game,” Toma said. “Just realizing that we're going to play in that stadium on Monday. It's a little nerve-racking, but we're ready for it.”
That tension dissipated a bit on the plane, as the players played the game “Bike Race” against each other (there was no official winner), but it reappeared upon walking into the South Florida humidity.
And that's fine, the senior receiver said.
“This is a huge game. This is what you want to play for when you're young,” Toma said. “If you don't feel nerves, than something is wrong with you.”
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