No. 2 Notre Dame moved one step closer to a shot at its first conference championship and a second College Football Playoff appearance with its 45-31 win at Boston College on Saturday.
The victory moves the Fighting Irish to 8-0 overall and follows one of the biggest wins in program history, taking down then-No. 1 Clemson 47-40 in double overtime to move into first place in the ACC standings in their rare season as a full ACC member. That game was highlighted by a career performance from Ian Book, and the senior quarterback was storyline again on Saturday against Boston College.
Book went 20-of-28 passing for 283 yards and three touchdowns while totaling 85 yards on the ground and another score. He did a great job of avoiding the Eagles' pass rush with his feet, extending the play and keeping his eyes downfield to connect with receivers. That was never more evident than in the first half after getting backed up to second and goal outside of the 10-yard line as Book evaded Boston College defenders before connecting with Ben Skowronek on one of the three touchdown receptions for the tight end.
Book's performance highlights one of the most interesting wrinkles to the College Football Playoff race, which is a Notre Dame team that is hitting its peak offensively as the season turns to crowning a champion in the next two months. The ground game was always going to be the foundation of the way the Fighting Irish attacked on offense, but now we've got the emergence of game-changing pass catchers with Skowronek and wide receiver Avery Davis.
What we've seen from Book in the last two weeks is not the effort of a game-manager but of a game-winner. He's wiling to take chances in scoring position while trusting his own talents and the matchups for his receivers. Notre Dame's defense has ridden a bend-but-don't-break approach to great results over the last three seasons, and now it's complemented not by an offense that avoids mistakes, but one that can run up the score behind a great college quarterback.
Brian Kelly spoke for the last several weeks about how important it was for the team to "raise the level of compete," not just to battle a team with the talent and depth of the Tigers but to maintain that high level of play week after week in pursuit of a championship. Winning that top-five showdown would be great "but if you lose to BC it doesn't mean anything," Kelly said going into the week of the Clemson game. It's clear that while the Tigers got the full attention of Notre Dame in the weeks leading up to last week's result, so did the potential letdown that was avoided on Saturday night.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with the latest from the game. Keep it locked here for live updates, highlights and more on Saturday afternoon.