BOSTON — Notre Dame has a history of following big wins with letdowns against rival Boston College.
This time the Irish wound up making some history for their coach at the Eagles’ expense.
Ian Book passed for three touchdowns and ran for another and the second-ranked Irish overcame an early deficit to roll to a 45-31 victory over BC on Saturday.
The Fighting Irish’s eighth straight win in the series between FBS’s only Catholic institutions gave coach Brian Kelly his 100th career victory at the school, tying him with Lou Holtz for second all-time. He is now just five behind coach Knute Rockne.
“One hundred wins. I was gonna say it felt like 100 years. But it’s not something I spend time thinking about. I will when I’m not coaching anymore,” Kelly said. “It means I’ve had a lot of good players, a lot of good coaches. I’m fortunate to be at Notre Dame that long. It’s not easy to win that many games at Notre Dame.”
Coming off a thrilling victory against then-No. 1 Clemson, Notre Dame (8-0, 7-0 ACC) racked up a season-high 561 total yards against BC.
The last time Notre Dame beat a top-ranked team was 1993, and then following week the Fighting Irish were upset by BC on a last-second field goal.
Book made sure there would be no similar letdown. He finished 20 of 27 for 283 yards and ran for a 85 yards. His last two games have been about as well as he has played in his three seasons as Notre Dame’s starter.
‘“I just knew that there was more for me. I knew I could take an extra step,” he said. “It’s starting to add up and I think I’m just trying to take it to the next level. … I think I’m just elevating at the right time.”
Ben Skowronek caught all three of Book’s TD passes, but also had one of three Notre Dame fumbles on the day. C’Bo Flemister ran for two touchdowns before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent left leg injury.
Phil Jurkovec, a transfer from Notre Dame playing against his former team for the first time, finished 18 of 40 for 272 yards with a touchdown and interception for Boston College (5-4, 4-4).
Jurkovec said he has been dealing the after effects of a separated throwing shoulder he suffered against Clemson two weeks ago. His throwing was limited leading into the Syrcause game last week and he acknowledged his arm is still not 100%.
“I wanted it badly,” he said. “It was a game we had circled on the schedule. It was very disappointing to lose it.”
The Eagles hung tough in the first half, recovering a pair of Notre Dame fumbles, but they scored only six points of the miscues.
Their defense also had few answers for Book, who took advantage of the Irish’s length at receiver throughout the game to produce five pass plays of 20 or more yards.
The Eagles jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the first quarter before the Irish outscored them 28-6 the rest of the first half.
Boston College had a chance to cut into a 24-16 deficit late in the second quarter after Notre Dame’s Kryen Williams fumbled following a hit by BC’s Chibueze Onwuka. The ball was recovered by Isaiah McDuffie on the Irish 42.
But BC gave it right back three plays later when center Alec Lindstrom snapped the ball before Jurkovec was expecting it. It was recovered by Notre Dame defensive end Daelin Hayes on the Eagles 49 with 2:05 left in the quarter.
Notre Dame moved quickly and Book connected with Skowronek for the third time in the half, this time from 7 yards out, to make it 31-16.
Notre Dame: The Irish avoided a letdown after their upset of the Tigers last week and continue to show they can score points in bunches and aren’t rattled by deficits. It keeps them in great position to make it to the ACC title game and qualify for the College Football Playoff.
Boston College: The Eagles had moments they can build on, much like they did when they took Clemson to the brink last month. But they were held to field goals too many times in the red zone. That is something that must change if they want to breakthrough under first year coach Jeff Hafley.
Kelly said Flemister’s injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
“He was shaken up pretty much in terms of ankle, knee, leg,” Kelly said. “But our initial evaluation of him was nothing that would cause great concern.”
Williams was also held out after tweaking his shoulder on a fumble in the second-quarter, but Kelly said it was precautionary.
The Irish were the only top-five team in action this weekend and are likely to stand pat after a solid performance,.
Notre Dame: Visits North Carolina on Nov. 27.
Boston College: Hosts Louisville on Nov. 27.