Bears

Notre Dame-USC: A low point in 2011, high point in 2012

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Notre Dame-USC: A low point in 2011, high point in 2012

If Notre Dame's loss to USC a year ago served as the low point of 2011, Brian Kelly's comments the week after were the exclamation point of that nadir. But Notre Dame's win over USC in 2012 brought them to a high point, only 13 months after some very public splintering.

"You can see the players that I recruited here," Kelly said in late October of last year. "You know who they are. We've had one class that I've had my hand on. The other guys here are coming along. But it's a process. It can't happen overnight. They're getting there. We're making good progress."

Notre Dame's upperclassmen -- who were recruited to the school by Charlie Weis -- took exception to the remarks, with Manti Te'o tweeting "playin for my bros and that's it!!!" A day after Kelly's comments, he cleared the air with his players from the previous regime, and all parties involved moved on.

And after Notre Dame's latest game against USC, the tone of the team was decidedly different.

"It was bumpy at first, but now it's great," Te'o said of his relationship with Kelly. "I'm happy to have him as my coach. He's the best coach in college football."

"I was just speechless, man," running back Theo Riddick, another Weis recruit, added. "I was just in shock. It was like a dream come true."

Thanks to efforts from both sides, Notre Dame players have bought into Kelly's system. For Kelly, he began the season by being more accessible to players.

"As you develop closer relationships with your players they starting to go, oh, I now know what you were talking about," Kelly said earlier in November. "I think we're at that point now."

Those bonds helped breed confidence within the program, which hadn't sniffed a somewhat realistic championship bid in a decade.

"I believed it was possible when we were working out in the offseason," senior safety Zeke Motta said after Saturday's win over USC. "I believed it then based off the way we competed every day and visualized our goal. And from then until now, it was always in our mind."

Perhaps the third-year-at-Notre-Dame trend isn't so random. Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz all won national championships in their third season in South Bend, and Kelly has a chance to join that group in early January. Implementing a system doesn't happen overnight, especially when so many key players weren't brought in by the new coaching staff.

Those bumps in the road are in the past. All that matters is what's in the future, and that's a date with Alabama or Georgia in the BCS Championship Jan. 7 in Miami.

"We believe in each other, our coaches believe in us and we believe in our coaches," Te'o said. "It's showed the type of camaraderie we have on our team. That's what's helped us be successful."

Programming note

On Saturday, Dec. 22, NBC will air "Undefeated: 2012 Notre Dame football season in review" at 1 p.m. CST, a behind-the-scenes look back at the program's first undefeated season in 24 years. It'll feature interviews with Kelly and Te'o and comes on the heels of the most-watched season of Notre Dame football on NBC since 2005.

Bears vs Rams, Week 14: How to watch, listen and stream

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USA TODAY

Bears vs Rams, Week 14: How to watch, listen and stream

The Bears are facing their toughest test of the season against the NFC-leading Los Angeles Rams. Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky have been compared to Sean McVay and Jared Goff many times, and now they get to go head to head.

Here’s how you can tune in to the game.

Game Information

Los Angeles Rams (11-1) at Chicago Bears (8-4)

7:20 p.m. CT, Sunday, Dec. 9

Soldier Field, Chicago

Television

Sunday Night Football on NBC

Announcers: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth

Stream

Stream on NBC Sports

Football Aftershow on NBC Sports Chicago

Radio

WBBM 780 (Chicago)

Satellite Radio

National broadcast: XM 88

Bears feed: XM 225

Rams feed: XM 226

Coverage on NBC Sports Chicago

“The Warm Up” — 15 minutes prior to every Bears game this season, host Laurence Holmes, along with analysts Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Matt Forte, will hold a special Facebook Live segment on NBC Sports Chicago’s official Facebook page — offering a game day preview featuring their expert commentary and predictions. 

Plus - Bears fans will have also an opportunity to have their questions answered by submitting their game day inquiries via the “comments” section on the live stream.

“3rd Quarter Sidecast” — At the start of the third quarter of every Bears game this season, fans will also be able to interact with the Football Aftershow crew via Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) as they watch and react to the first few series of the second half.

In addition, the “3rd Quarter Sidecast” will also feature more fan interaction as fans can post their thoughts and ask their questions to Briggs, Brown, and Forte.

Bears vs. Rams: Top experts predict primetime loss for Chicago

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USA TODAY

Bears vs. Rams: Top experts predict primetime loss for Chicago

For most of the season, the top NFL analysts have backed the Bears in their weekly game predictions. But when a team like the Los Angeles Rams come to town, that confidence in Chicago vanished.

It doesn’t help that the Bears are coming off of a disappointing loss to the New York Giants, but the return of Mitchell Trubisky should provide enough of a boost to ease any lingering concerns.

Still, the second-year quarterback hasn’t faced an opponent of this caliber, and 78 percent of the national prognosticators are picking the Rams, according to NFL Pick Watch.

Out of the top 25 most accurate predictors, only four are picking the Bears on Sunday night. 

The analytics models mostly favor Los Angeles, but Microsoft Cortana is the only machine picking the home team.

Our own JJ Stankevitz predicts the Rams will win a close game that comes down to the wire.

The betting line has moved in the Bears’ favor, but everything seems to be stacked up against Matt Nagy in prime time.