Rutgers-Notre Dame Preview
Notre Dame would like to close out a mostly disappointing year
with a victory at the site of some of the greatest moments in its
storied history. Rutgers certainly wants to claim a winning record
the season before it moves to a tougher conference.
The No. 25 Irish and Scarlet Knights meet in the Pinstripe Bowl
at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
A season after a stunning run to the BCS title game, Notre Dame
endured an uneven year. A four-game winning streak left the Irish
at 7-2 on Nov. 2 before they dropped two of their last three.
Notre Dame (8-4) nearly rallied from 15 down at then-No. 8
Stanford in its regular-season finale Nov. 30 before falling 27-20.
The Irish closed to within four after three quarters, but Tommy
Rees threw two interceptions late in the fourth.
”Not good enough obviously. Proud of the guys and my teammates
and how we fought all year but you don’t come to Notre Dame to go
8-4, and everyone understands that,” said Rees, who took over when
last season’s starter Everett Golson was suspended for a semester
due to academic reasons. ”You have to be better.”
The Irish were chosen for the four-year-old Pinstripe Bowl after
the Big 12 finished without enough bowl-eligible teams.
Nonetheless, Notre Dame will add another chapter to its history in
the Bronx, where it last played Nov. 20, 2010, beating longtime
rival Army 27-3.
The Irish played some famous games at the old Yankee Stadium,
including in 1928 against Army when coach Knute Rockne gave his
famous ”Win one for the Gipper” speech. No. 1 Army and No. 2 Notre
Dame played the Game of the Century there in 1946 in a game that
featured four Heisman Trophy winners and ended in a 0-0 tie.
Coach Brian Kelly said the Irish are looking forward to
”We were privileged to play in New York City and Yankee Stadium
in 2010. The treatment our university received from the
Steinbrenner family, the New York Yankees and the entire
organization was unlike anything we’ve experienced in my tenure at
Notre Dame,” he said.
Next season the Irish will be part of the ACC bowl lineup, which
will include the Pinstripe Bowl.
Rutgers (6-6) ended the season in even more lackluster fashion
than Notre Dame, needing to defeat South Florida 31-6 on Dec. 7 to
become bowl eligible and end a three-game losing streak. The
Scarlet Knights earned their eighth bowl bid in nine years, but
hardly put together a strong season in the AAC before their move to
the Big Ten for next season.
“We came out today and it was do or die,” said running back Paul
James, who rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns. “We were
fighting to get to that bowl game. Now that we are there everyone
is excited and happy to get there.”
It may not be a pleasant experience for the Scarlet Knights if
they don’t play better defense. They shut down woeful South
Florida, but Rutgers gave up an average of 38.0 points in the
previous seven games, and its 311.4 passing yards allowed per
contest is among the worst marks in the nation.
The Scarlet Knights have given up 3,596 yards through the air,
the most in school history.
That could spell trouble against Rees, who passed for 2,938
yards and 27 touchdowns with a 138.1 rating. TJ Jones paced the
Irish receiving corps with 1,042 yards and nine touchdowns.
Despite the less-than-spectacular seasons from the Irish and
Scarlet Knights, they seem likely to play before a large and
enthusiastic crowd. Notre Dame has a significant fan base in the
New York City area to go along with Rutgers’ proximity to the game
The Notre Dame-Army matchup in 2010 drew a Yankee Stadium-record
crowd for football of 54,251. Both schools have sold out their
ticket allotments of about 10,000 apiece.
“It’s a really attractive matchup,” embattled second-year
Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. “It will certainly be an attractive
matchup for their fan base and I think it will be attractive to
just the casual college sports fan that wants to see an event and
to get an opportunity to go watch a football game in Yankee
Stadium, one of the premiere venues in the world.”
Chas Dodd is likely to make his third straight start at
quarterback for the Scarlet Knights since replacing Gary Nova. Dodd
went 19 of 24 for 179 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions
against South Florida.
James ran for team highs of 833 yards and nine touchdowns this
Notre Dame has won all four games against Rutgers in a series
that dates to 1921, the most recent matchup being a 42-0 home
victory Nov. 23, 2002.