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Monday, November 21, 2011
Weekend rewind: Notre Dame

By Matt Fortuna

It is time to look back at the weekend that was for Notre Dame, which eked out a 16-14 win over three-win Boston College to win its fourth straight game overall and third in a row over an ACC opponent.

The Good: A win's a win, right? This one was the Irish's fourth in a row against an overmatched opponent, and the end result is all that matters. Looking at the fact Notre Dame had lost two of its previous four Senior Day games -- and the fact it ended the day with the same win total as last season -- the Irish will take it and not look back.

The Bad: As mentioned earlier, Boston College is a three-win team. Notre Dame jumped out to an early 10-0 lead but could never run away from the overmatched Eagles, whose last hope was not officially wiped out until an onside kick recovery by Robby Toma. Notre Dame started six different drives inside its own 20-yard line, and it did not score on any of those drives.

The Ugly: Jonas Gray's likely season-ending knee injury fits in this category. So, too, does Stephon Tuitt missing the game with an illness. And Harrison Smith going to the infirmary the day before the game. And another unidentified player, according to Brian Kelly on Sunday, getting sick after the game.

Turning point: David Ruffer's 27-yard field goal with 8:08 left made it a two-possession game, giving the Irish a 16-7 lead. After starting the season just 2-of-6, Ruffer has connected on eight straight field goals, including three Saturday -- two from 40 yards or beyond -- in what ended up being a two-point game.

Play of the day: Tyler Eifert's spectacular one-handed grab for 37 yards in the first quarter takes the cake here, though Toma deserves an honorable mention for his full-extension 20-yard diving catch in the second quarter while absorbing a hit.

Next up: Notre Dame's biggest test of the season comes this Saturday at No. 6 Stanford in what is likely Andrew Luck's final home game. Who? Just arguably the greatest NFL draft prospect of the last decade and a strong Heisman Trophy contender. The Cardinal will likely be playing for an at-large BCS-bowl berth, something Notre Dame can only have a fringe chance of by pulling off the road upset this weekend.