College Football Pinstripe Bowl Preview: Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish

2013 New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Yankee Stadium – Bronx, New York
Saturday, December 28, 2013, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Notre Dame -15 1/2
Current Line: Notre Dame -14 1/2
Opening Total: 53
Current Total: 53 1/2
Opening Money Line: Notre Dame -620 / Rutgers +465
Current Money Line: Notre Dame -600 / Rutgers +450

Notre Dame is a heavy favorite to beat Rutgers in the Pintstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium Saturday.
Notre Dame is a heavy favorite to beat Rutgers in the Pintstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium Saturday.

The 2013 New Era Pinstripe Bowl was lucky enough to land an almost perfect match-up. The 8-4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on the 6-6 Rutgers Scarlet Knights in Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame has a long tradition of playing in New York City and has a large fan base in the city. In fact the Fighting Irish played Army in 2010 in the first football game played in the new Yankee Stadium. Rutgers is located in nearby New Jersey and will also bring a large fan base. Notre Dame has beaten Rutgers in all four of the previous match-ups between the schools, including 42-0 in South Bend in 2002.

Rutgers went 3-5 in the American Athletic Conference, formerly the Big East. The Scarlet Knights are making their 8th bowl appearance in the last 9 seasons. Overall, Rutgers is 5-3 all-time in bowl games. The Scarlet Knights lost to Virgina Tech 13-10 in overtime last year in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. The loss snapped a 5 game bowl winning streak for Rutgers that included a 27-13 win over Iowa State in the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl.

Last season Notre Dame lost to Alabama 42-13 in the BCS Championship game in Miami. Overall, the Fighting Irish are 15-17 in bowl games. Since 1995, Notre Dame has gone 2-11 in bowl games, and has lost two straight games. Notre Dame has never played a current member of the AAC in a bowl game before.

Rutgers is coached by Kyle Flood. The Scarlet Knights started off the season 4-1, but went 2-5 down the stretch to limp into a bowl game. Rutgers has road losses at Fresno State 52-51 in overtime, at Louisville 24-10, Central Florida 41-17, and Connecticut 28-17, along with home losses to Houston 49-14 and Cincinnati 52-17. The Scarlet Knights have home wins over Norfolk State 38-0, Eastern Michigan 28-10, Arkansas 28-24, Temple 23-20, and South Florida 31-6 to close out the regular season, plus a road win over SMU 55-52 in overtime. Rutgers is 4-8 ATS and the total is 5-7 this season. The Scarlet Knights had to beat South Florida in the last game to become bowl eligible after losing their previous 3 games. Rutgers was a 4 point favorite against USF and the total was 44.

Rutgers is being outscored 30-27 this season. The Scarlet Knights are averaging 375.9 yards per game on offense including 242.2 passing and 133.7 rushing yards. The Knights are #87 in total offense and and #99 in rushing out of 125 FBS teams. On defense, Rutgers is allowing 406 yards per game including 311.4 passing and 94.6 rushing yards. The Scarlet Knights are #4 nationally in rush defense, but the pass defense is #122. Rutgers is -9 in turnovers with 26 giveaways. The Knights are averaging 56 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 62. Rutgers is 82/199 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 87/197. The Scarlet Knights have forced 32 sacks but allowed 31 this season. Rutgers is 38/49 scoring in the red zone with 29 touchdowns and opponents are 37/43 with 30 touchdowns. Rutgers has 2 kickoff returns, 2 punt returns and a fumble return all for touchdowns, and has allowed a pick six.

Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova has completed 54.5% of his passes for 2,159 yards with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. He was benched for the last two games and replaced by Chas Dodd. Dodd will start the bowl game, but Nova could see some snaps. Dodd has completed 60% of his passes for 712 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Running back Paul James has 146 carries, 833 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 85 yards. Justin Goodwin has 108 carries, 518 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 10 catches, 86 yards and a touchdown. Savon Huggins has 84 carries, 279 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 12 catches for 66 yards. Fullback Sam Bergen is out for the season with an ankle injury.

Receiver Tyler Kroft has 40 catches, 530 yards and 4 touchdowns. Quron Pratt has 31 catches for 493 yards, along with a kick return for a touchdown. Leonte Carroo has 28 catches, 478 yards and 9 touchdowns. He is questionable with an upper body injury. Brandon Coleman has 32 catches, 473 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ruhann Peele has 26 catches for 278 yards and a touchdown. Michael Burton has 19 catches, 146 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 9 carries for 61 rushing yards. Janarion Grant has a kick and punt return for touchdowns. Andre Patton has a punt return for a touchdown plus a receiving touchdown. Four other little used receivers are listed as questionable or out as is tight end Taylor Marini. Nine defensive players are also questionable or out.

Notre Dame is coached by Brian Kelly. The Fighting Irish have road losses at Michigan 41-30, Pittsburgh 28-21 and Stanford 27-20, along with a home loss to Oklahoma 35-21. Notre Dame has home wins over Temple 28-6, Michigan State 17-13, USC 14-10, Navy 38-34, and BYU 23-13, along with road wins over Purdue 31-24, Arizona State 37-34 in Arlington, TX, and Air Force 45-10. The Fighting Irish are 5-6-1 ATS and the total is 5-7 this season. Notre Dame was a 16.5 point underdog at Stanford to close out the regular season and the total was 49.5.

Notre Dame is outscoring teams 27-23 this season. The Fighting Irish are #31 in points allowed nationally. Notre Dame is averaging 398.1 yards per game on offense, including 249.5 passing and 148.6 rushing yards. The Fighting Irish are #47 in passing nationally. On defense, Notre Dame is allowing 377 yards per game including 201.7 passing and 175.3 rushing yards. The Fighting Irish are #45 in total offense and #18 in pass defense. Notre Dame is -3 in turnovers with 16 giveaways. The Irish average 44 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 51. Notre Dame is 71/172 on third and fourth conversions and opponents are 82/198. The Fighting Irish have forced 17 sacks and allowed 8 this season. Notre Dame is 31/40 scoring in the red zone with 22 touchdowns and opponents are 35/42 with 24 touchdowns. The Fighting Irish have allowed 2 pick sixes this season but scored 3 of their own.

Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees has completed 53.7% of his passes for 2,938 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Back-up Andrew Hendrix has a rushing touchdown.

Running back Cam McDaniel has 135 carries, 625 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 3 catches. George Atkinson III has 93 carries, 555 yards, and 3 touchdowns, along with 7 catches for 51 yards. Tarean Folston has 71 carries for 397 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 2 catches. Amir Carlisle has 46 carries for 201 yards and 7 catches. Little used running back Greg Bryant is out for the season with a knee injury.

Receiver T.J. Jones has 65 catches, 1,042 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 5 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown. DeVaris Daniels has 46 catches for 720 yards and 7 touchdowns. Troy Niklas has 28 catches for 422 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end Ben Kovack has 9 catches for 158 yards and 3 touchdowns. Four defensive players are out for the season.

Rutgers is 5-1-1 ATS in bowl games, 7-2-2 in December, 6-2-1 in neutral site games, 8-3 against independent teams, 7-3 after allowing 20 points or more, 9-4 after allowing less than 100 rushing yards, 3-7 after a straight up win of more than 20 points, 2-5 in non-conference games, 1-5 overall, and 0-4 after a cover.

Notre Dame is 5-1 ATS after gaining less than 275 total yards, 5-2 overall, and in neutral site games, 2-5 in bowl games and after allowing 170 passing yards or less, and 0-3-1 after rushing for less than 100 yards.

Reees should be able to carve up the terrible Rutgers secondary. Rutgers has a great rush defense though. Both teams have a lot of injuries on defense but neither offense is spectacular. If Notre Dame is motivated, they should win this game by double digits in front of a frenzied crowd in Yankee Stadium.

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