Bronx, NY - Notre Dame will face off against Rutgers with a noon EST kickoff in the 4th New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday, December 28 at Yankee Stadium.
Notre Dame, winners of just 2 of its last 11 bowl games and riding a 2-bowl losing streak, will face a school that had won 5 straight bowl games before bowing to Virginia Tech in overtime at last year's Russell Athletic Bowl.
Led by head coach Brian Kelly, Notre Dame finished the regular season with an 8-4 record and has combined to amass a 20-5 record over its last two seasons of play. Notable wins this year included a 17-13 victory over Michigan State on September 21, and a 14-10 win over USC on October 19.
Wide receiver T.J. Jones led the Notre Dame offense with a team-high 1,042 receiving yards, including 9 touchdown receptions. Linebacker Dan Fox led the defense with a team-high 90 tackles.
Kelly owns a 36-15 (.706) overall record in his four years with the Irish, one of only two head coaches in school history to win eight or more games in each of their first four seasons (also Dan Devine).
For the Irish, it will mark the second time that the school has played at the current Yankee Stadium. On November 20, 2010, Notre Dame defeated Army, 27-3, in the first football game ever played at the venue. Heisman Trophy winners Johnny Lujack and Pete Dawkins served as honorary captains in what was the 50th all-time meeting between the two teams.
Notre Dame holds an all-time mark of 16-6-3 in Yankee Stadium games. In the 1940s alone, while playing at the original Yankee Stadium, Notre Dame claimed consensus national titles in 1943, '46, '47 and '49. In that same decade of the 1940s, the Irish produced three Heisman Trophy winners in Angelo Bertelli (1943), Lujack (1947) and Leon Hart (1949).
The original Yankee Stadium also played host to the 1928 Notre Dame-Army matchup which resulted in a 12-6 Irish victory. The game was scoreless at halftime, when Notre Dame head coach Knute Rockne gave his now-famous "win one for the Gipper" speech in the locker room.
Rutgers is led by second-year head coach and 2012 Big East Coach of the Year Kyle Flood. The Scarlet Knights (6-6) responded to a season-opening loss by winning their next four games, including a 55-52 triple-overtime victory at SMU on October 5. But Rutgers lost 5 of its next 5 games and needed a final-week 31-6 win over USF to meet the minimum requirements for bowl eligibility with a 6-6 record.
The sometimes explosive, often unpredictable, Rutgers offense was led by running back Paul James (9 TD's) and wide receiver Leonte Carroo (9 TD receptions). Rutgers Linebacker Steve Longa led all freshmen nationally with 111 tackles.
Quarterback has been a question mark. Gary Nova started the season on fire with 13 scoring strikes and only 4 picks through his first five games, but practically reversed those numbers over the next 5 games with 5 TD passes and 10 interceptions. Thus, Chas Dodd got the nod for the last two starts and was named the starter for the Pinstripe Bowl. It was Dodd who started the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl game for Rutgers as he led the team to a 27-13 win over Iowa State in an emotional victory dedicated to Eric LeGrand who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a game against Army in 2010.
This will be Rutgers' third appearance at the current Yankee Stadium, after the Scarlet Knights also defeated the Army Black Knights, 27-12, on November 12, 2011 in their first game in the Bronx since 1948. Rutgers, whose main campus in Piscataway, N.J., is located less than 50 miles away from Yankee Stadium, also played nine times at the original Yankee Stadium - all against New York University - going 1-7-1.
This will mark the ninth time that the school has played in a bowl game, having tallied a 5-1 record in their previous six appearances since 2006.
Rutgers football at Yankee Stadium
- 1926 Oct. 23: NYU - 30, Rutgers - 0
- 1927 Oct. 22: NYU - 60, Rutgers - 6
- 1928 Oct. 20: NYU - 48, Rutgers - 0
- 1929 Nov. 23: NYU - 20, Rutgers - 7
- 1930 Nov. 22: NYU - 33, Rutgers - 0
- 1931 Oct. 17: NYU - 27, Rutgers - 7
- 1932 Oct. 8: NYU - 21, Rutgers - 0
- 1933 Nov. 18: NYU - 6, Rutgers - 6
- 1948 Nov. 13: Rutgers - 40, NYU - 0
- 2011 Nov. 12: Rutgers - 27, Army - 12
- 2011 Dec. 30: Rutgers - 27, Iowa State - 13
Established in 2010, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl has featured some of the most memorable moments of bowl seasons in just three short years, including the exciting finish in the inaugural 2010 game in which Kansas State missed a game-tying two-point conversion in the final minute. The 2012 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which saw Syracuse defeat West Virginia 38-14, included a record-setting 213-yard rushing performance by the Orange's Prince-Tyson Gulley.
Last year's game also featured six 2013 NFL draft picks, including each of the game's starting quarterbacks - Syracuse's Ryan Nassib (Giants) and West Virginia's Geno Smith (Jets).
The Congrove Computer Rankings project Notre Dame as a huge 17.80-point winner for the widest predicted outcome of the 35 postseason games.