CHESTNUT HILL, Mass - So much for the ghosts of 1993 and 2002.
History took a backseat to reality Saturday night during the Notre Dame football teams trip to New England.
Last weeks narrow escape from Pittsburgh was the wakeup call the Irish needed heading to Boston College.
Notre Dame (10-0) grabbed a lead and wouldnt let go in a somewhat underwhelming 21-6 victory over the forlorn Eagles (2-8).
Almost six Summer Olympiads ago in 1993, Notre Dame owned the college football world - for a week. A win over top-ranked Florida State had elevated the undefeated Irish to the No. 1 team in the land with one game - a home contest with Boston College - left between them and a shot at the national title.
The Eagles ended the dream.
Fast forward to 2002. Another spurt of perfection, this one lasting eight games. Though, it had more smoke and mirrors attached. Boston College exposed the Irish for imposters and started Notre Dames decline.
This time, the Irish were playing with plenty of incentive. Alabamas loss earlier Saturday has thrown the BCS into a tizzy. Style points actually mean something now. Suddenly, a spot in the top two and the national championship game got a whole lot more realistic.
The distance between South Bend and South Beach (the site of the national championship game) just got closer.
Saturday nights conquest was more a product of a relatively solid football team bullying one filled with flaws, than an attempt to spit in the eye of historical markers.
In other words, Notre Dame was just that much better than BC.
It wasnt necessarily a blowout, but it wasnt close, either. It lacked the eye-popping dramatics. Notre Dame lumbered rather than rolled over the Eagles.
In other words, it was a microcosm of how Notre Dames season has gone.
Wins over Navy, Miami, Michigan State and Oklahoma were nothing short of impressive. Beyond that, get by and move on.
Theres winning. And theres WINNING!!! Not enough of the former. Too much of the latter.
Sounds a little spoiled, huh? Greedy? When there are national championship implications, the margin for error is greatly diminished. Boring isnt appreciated as a national perception.
No surprise the Irish dominated, though. It was played away from home. Those gremlins that make playing in Notre Dame Stadium so difficult dont follow the Irish on the road.
Notre Dame limped through chunks of the game with bullet holes in its shoes. The Irish emptied a six-shooter in their foot, then reloaded, and still led 14-3 at the break.
A fumble by running back George Atkinson III; a holding penalty on a long run by Theo Riddick; a fourth-quarter fumble by Riddick; and two drops by wide-open Boston College receivers with plenty of room to run contributed to the spin of the wheels the Irish faced on occasion.
Notre Dame cornerback Bennett Jackson had a big drop of his own. BC quarterback Chase Rettig threw a pass to the wide side of the field. Jackson stepped in front of the receiver and had nothing but about 40 yards of artificial turf ahead of him. The ball slid through his hands and bounced off his shoulder pads.
So many times Notre Dame fell short of coach Brian Kellys mission to have the head of a champion, along with the heart.
Hard to beef about the production, though.
Notre Dame had three possessions in the first half and controlled the ball more than 18 minutes. The Irish generated 256 yards and converted on all eight of its third-down tries.
The 11-point edge at halftime was hardly as dominating as it seemed.
It was the Irish defense that had its struggles.
Boston College took advantage of Notre Dames pursuit with screen passes and misdirection running plays. BC had five short pass plays for double-digit gains in the first half. Spiffy (Dont you just love the name Spiffy?) Evans turned a short pass into a 28-yard gain late in the third quarter. It was the key play in a drive that set up BCs second field goal, cutting the Notre Dame lead to 21-6.
No problem. Boston College wasnt good enough to make it interesting.
History wasnt a factor. Neither was style.
Forget one. Better start paying attention to the other.
Staff writer Al Lesar: