If there was any doubt about Brian Kelly's place as an elite coach and Notre Dame's place as an elite team, it vanished into the Tallahassee night.
The Fighting Irish left Doak Campbell Stadium in defeat, but they stood on level ground with the heavily favored, insanely talented national champions -- on the road, right until the final seconds. And if two receivers had been a little slicker with their pick attempts, Notre Dame might have slayed mighty Florida State.
"We don't coach illegal plays," Kelly said afterward.
Most of the legal plays Kelly called worked masterfully against the Seminoles. He made the right in-game decisions, including a punt midway through the fourth quarter that returned the ball to a scalding-hot Jameis Winston. Notre Dame's defense, one of the nation's most surprising units, held firm, and quarterback Everett Golson led the Irish to the threshold of victory only to fall just short.
The next step for Kelly is arguably even tougher than game planning for Florida State on the road. But it's also a task he's more than capable of completing. He must lift the spirits of his players, prevent a letdown and restore belief that all of Notre Dame's goals, including a national championship, are still on the table.
Kelly also has some help, should he need it. There's a blueprint to responding to adversity that others have followed in this most unique of seasons, when one loss, especially one like Notre Dame's at Florida State, isn't the death knell.
Several one-loss teams showed Notre Dame how it's done in Week 8.
FSU Reclaims No. 2 In Power Rankings
Final Syracuse 30 Wake Forest 7 Final Virginia 13 Duke 20 Final 24 Clemson 17 Boston College 13 Final North Carolina State 18 Louisville 30 Final Georgia Tech 43 North Carolina 48 Final 5 Notre Dame 27 2 Florida State 31