News of Ohio State's loss began to trickle down to the field during the pregame warm-ups — well before the powers that be controlling the scores on Fenway Park's Green Monster could update them. Irish media, fans and even the mascot broke out into controlled celebrations.
With Ohio State saddled with a loss and no longer controlling its own destiny, conventional wisdom said all Notre Dame had to do was come away with a sound, convincing win over Boston College. That would make the Stanford game next week essentially a "win and you're in" scenario.
That was the plan anyway.
After Boston College gave Notre Dame ideal field position via a shanked opening kickoff out of bounds, the Irish drove down the field against the nation's top defense with relative ease. This was how it would be. Notre Dame was going to take care of business and make that statement.
Then, Deshone Kizer rolled right and threw the first of his three interceptions directly into the hands of John Johnson.
That would be the story of the night, as Notre Dame marched up and down the field on Boston College for four quarters, only to fumble or throw away opportunity after opportunity. Even when Notre Dame wasn't turning it over, balls were being bobbled or popping out of the hands of ball carriers as they went down seemingly on every drive.
It was a beautiful scene. The make-shift football field at Fenway was immaculate. Both teams' uniforms looked — for lack of a better word — sharp. The green, blue, maroon and gold-clad fans throughout the stadium painted a breathtaking backdrop for a once-in-a-lifetime game.
As beautiful as all that surrounded the matchup was, this was about as ugly of a win Notre Dame could have envisioned. Five turnovers and the loss of yet another starter were the stories in this one.
In a perfect world, a win is a win and you are always happy to get one. But this is not a perfect world. This is college football. This is a sport where we fire 9-win coaches. This is the only team-oriented entity on the planet where you earn a shot to compete for the game's biggest prize by essentially impressing the judges — much like figure skating.
On a night when the defending champion basically fell face first on the ice and out of contention, all Notre Dame had to do was go through the motions and look good doing it. Their failure to accomplish that feat — combined with wins by Iowa, Oklahoma and yes, even Michigan State — may have put the Irish on even thinner ice than they were skating on before kickoff.
As I rode the "T" train away from the iconic ballpark, I glanced around and saw several Notre Dame fans looking like they just ate a bad Fenway Frank.
Across the aisle, a woman decked out in Boston College gear says to the man sitting next to her, "We got'em."
"We lost," he replied.
"Yeah, but they were ranked number four," she said. "Beating us by three in an ugly game like that? They might as well have lost."
It will be interesting to see whether or not the College Football Playoff committee agrees with her come Tuesday night. Then again, if Notre Dame turns in a similar performance next week against a much better opponent in Palo Alto, the opinion of the committee won't matter.