"The committee is out of my hands, it's out of our players' hands, all we want to do is put ourselves in a position to be considered and we feel like we need to win another game to still be considered," coach Brian Kelly said after his team turned the ball over five times in the first three quarters, three of those times in the red zone, in an unimpressive 19-16 victory over Boston College.
"We're one of the top four teams after last week, we'll see where we stand this week," Kelly said. "We just gotta keep winning games. We've got another game against a nationally ranked team (at No. 11 Stanford) which will give us an opportunity. Our guys know what has been in front of them when they lost to Clemson earlier in the year -- you gotta win all your games. We've got one more -- we gotta win it."
On a day that saw No. 3 Ohio State lose, the Fighting Irish (10-1) fumbled, stumbled and bumbled their way to the win over an offensively challenged BC team that was losing its seventh straight to fall to 3-8.
Quarterback DeShone Kizer threw two touchdown passes and three interceptions. The Irish fumbled six times, losing two. They botched an extra point. They built a 19-3 lead and held off a late BC charge.
And the win may well have been costly. The Irish lost running back CJ Prosise to a high ankle sprain and cornerback KeiVarae Russell to a right foot stress fracture. Prosise cleared the 1,000-yard mark for the season with a 31-yard run early before getting hurt. He was using crutches on the sideline while Russell was helped to the locker room.
It was the first football game played at Fenway since the Boston Patriots beat the Cincinnati Bengals 33-14 on Dec. 1, 1968. ND was actually the home team in the Shamrock Series contest.
Kelly felt Kizer, a sophomore, will benefit from being "humbled" by the interceptions. Kizer threw touchdown passes to senior wide receivers Amir Carlisle and Chris Brown, who combined for 13 catches. The coach also felt his players "persevered" through the adversity. Kizer finished 20 of 38 for 320 yards.
Justin Yoon kicked 30- and 35-yard field goals for the other points for ND, which had four turnovers at Clemson in its only loss and came in with 12 on the season in 10 games.
BC freshman Colton Lichtenberg kicked a 43-yard field goal that made it 10-3 in the third quarter -- Lichtenberg's first college field goal in four tries.
Freshman quarterback Jeff Smith, who entered the game in the third quarter, sprinted 80 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown, but BC then took a delay of game penalty that led to a two-point conversion failure.
BC freshman walk-on quarterback John Fadule started, left and played again late but left to undergo concussion protocol. Smith threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Charlie Callinan with 54 seconds left, but ND recovered the ensuing onside kick.
"I'm proud of the way our team played and fought and I thought that we could see the makings of where we're heading in the future, and I'm excited for the development of our football team," said BC coach Steve Addazio.
It was ND's fifth win over an ACC team this year, a record for the Irish over any conference in a season. The Irish finish their regular season at Stanford next Saturday.
The game was a homecoming for Kelly, who was born in nearby Everett and said he came out onto the field earlier than usual to take it all in.
Talking about the damage ND's three red zone turnovers could have caused, Kelly went all baseball and said, "It's like leaving runners in scoring position."
BC safety Justin Simmons had two interceptions and forced and recovered a fumble.
NOTES: Red Sox great David Ortiz offered his Fenway Park locker to Notre Dame WR Torii Hunter Jr. and, with Ortiz's locker wider than others, the son of the retiring baseball player shared the space with fellow WR Will Fuller. Hunter Jr. vowed to jump over the wall and into the Red Sox bullpen if he scored a touchdown in that end zone -- the back of the end zone close to the wall -- in honor of his dad going over the wall on an Ortiz playoff homer. Hunter Sr. was at the game. ... With this being a matchup of the only Catholic schools playing FBS football, security was predictably tight. ... BC ends its season at Syracuse next week. ... A moment of silence was held for former BC great Doug Flutie's parents, who passed away within an hour of each other on Thursday. Doug Flutie worked the game as a TV analyst.