The Fighting Irish did enough right at Alumni Stadium Saturday night to put away Boston College, 21-6, and remain undefeated and in the hunt for a berth in the BCS Championship Game.
The Irish did not, however, make a case in any way that they should jump either Kansas State or Oregon in the BCS standings.
Although the game started as planned, with Notre Dame scoring touchdowns on three of its first four possessions en route to a 21-3 lead early in the third quarter, the Irish seemed to lose interest in gaining yardage and could not pull away from BC.
Irish quarterback Everett Golson had another consistent outing, connecting on 16-of-24 for an even 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
He also ran 11 times for 37 yards and another score while avoiding turnovers.
The Notre Dame ground game had no difficulty chewing up the Eagle defense, gaining over four-and-a-half yards per carry totaling 184 yards.
A pair of fumbles by George Atkinson and Theo Riddick stalled promising drives and prevented a solid win from looking better on paper.
Boston College took advantage of Notre Dame's deep zone to chew up yardage through the air as the strong-armed Chase Rettig found open receivers short and intermediate to keep the Irish offense off the field.
BC also took advantage of Irish aggression and connected on several screen passes for large gains early on.
Rettig and his Eagle teammates were unable to cross the goal line as the line of scrimmage was owned by the Irish defense.
Prince Shembo, Stephon Tuitt and Ishaq Williams—who may have had his strongest game of the year—were fixtures in the BC backfield.
Manti Te'o collected his sixth interception of the season. Bennett Jackson was literally everywhere making solid tackles as the Irish defense again held an opponent without a touchdown and kept BC to only 53 yards rushing.
Notre Dame controlled the game from start to finish and left much time for commentary about basically anything to distract attention from the fact that the nationally televised "Game of the Week" was a snooze fest.
By the time that the fourth quarter rolled around, there was more discussion about the upcoming BCS standings than the action on the field.
For the Irish, however, any talk of the BCS or of a championship game are truly premature.
Yes, Alabama lost. It is now a three-horse race.
But since beating a good Oklahoma team, Brian Kelly's Notre Dame team should have lost to Pittsburgh and failed to pull away from 2-8 Boston College.
The offense has been more consistent but still lacks explosive plays favoring a "grind it out" mentality that keeps games close and allows opponents to remain alive late into the contest.
Notre Dame continues to be vexed by the concept of returning a punt, deciding that a fair catch is undoubtedly the best possible result.
Field goals have been 50/50, and special teams have been a phase of the game that Notre Dame all but ignores.
The defense has adopted a "bend but don't break" mentality that allows movement toward the red zone and clamps down preventing touchdowns. The strategy has been effective in winning games but has limited offensive chances and prevented Notre Dame from earning all-important style points from BCS voters.
On the horizon is a home date with 5-5 Wake Forest who was blown out by North Carolina State and a trip to visit nemesis USC at the Coliseum.
The Irish have won 10 straight in a season for the first time since 1993. They have assured themselves their first BCS berth in six years.
Notre Dame has a legitimate shot at running table, beating Wake Forest and USC and finishing 12-0.
They also have a legitimate shot at being the first undefeated Notre Dame team to have no shot at a national championship.
And there is really nothing anyone in South Bend can do to change that other than ignore the hype, go about game preparation and root like hell against Oregon and Kansas State.
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