BOSTON -- Notre Dame didn't inspire much confidence in its No. 4 ranking Saturday at Fenway Park, as it struggled through turnovers and missed opportunities in a lackluster 19-16 victory over Boston College. In the first football game since 1968 at the famed baseball stadium, it is safe to say the Irish struck out in trying to make a good impression on the College Football Playoff committee, particularly with Michigan State, Iowa and Oklahoma gaining steam.
What will the so-so performance mean in the grand scheme? Does it even mean anything, considering No. 11 Stanford looms next week in the regular-season finale? We have to wait until the new rankings Tuesday to find out.
What the win means for Notre Dame: The Irish are lucky they faced one of the worst offenses in the country, or they might not have been able to pull out a victory, given all their mistakes. DeShone Kizer played his worst game of the season, with three interceptions, including one in the end zone on the opening drive of the game. Notre Dame had five turnovers in all, with three in the red zone. To make matters worse, running back C.J. Prosise injured his ankle in the second half, shortly after going more than 1,000 yards on the season, and he didn’t return. Although it must be noted Boston College has the country's top-ranked defense, you can bet Irish coach Brian Kelly won't be happy with his offense. Perhaps the Irish were overlooking Boston College because of the looming meeting with Stanford. But that wouldn’t seem to make much sense, considering how strong the Eagles have been defensively all season. Given the way Notre Dame had to survive its victory over Temple, it’s safe to say the Irish simply played poorly (again).
What the loss means for Boston College: The Eagles weren’t given much of a chance to win the game because their offense is not exactly a juggernaut (OK, far from a juggernaut). But they did play the Irish close and tough, and that wasn’t completely unexpected, given the way BC likes to attack on defense. Justin Simmons had two interceptions and forced a fumble in a strong defensive effort, while Connor Strachan had eight tackles, including 2.5 for loss. Jeff Smith came into the game in the second half and gave BC a much-needed spark at quarterback after John Fadule struggled to get anything going, even with all the Notre Dame turnovers. The Eagles had 140 yards of total offense through three quarters, and Smith’s 80-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter was the offensive highlight of the night. BC fought until the end and went on an 86-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 19-16, but that's as close as the game got. BC has lost seven straight and goes into its regular-season finale next week against Syracuse hoping to get its first victory of 2015 over a Power 5 foe.
Stat of the game: 88. BC ended up with 88 yards passing. It was the sixth time this season that BC has thrown for 100 yards or fewer. Let that sink in.
How the game was won: After Boston College went on a nine-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Smith to Charlie Callinan to make it 19-16, Notre Dame recovered the onside kick with 54 seconds left to seal the win.