Tim O'Malley -- PublisherA win Saturday means different things to different factions:
For the Rutgers program and its fan base, a victory over hated (disliked?) Notre Dame would be its best of an uneven season.
For Notre Dame fans in attendance, a win would offer a source of pride and a cherry on top of their Holiday trip to Manhattan.
For Irish fans at home, it would mean, well, not losing to Rutgers.
Fortunately, there's a group of Golden Domers to which Saturday's game is as important as any since they played for all the marbles last January in Miami.
Because it's their last together.
The class of 2014, formerly the incoming freshmen of 2010 and Brian Kelly's "class-on-the-fly," found a way to win more games than any other at the University since Lou Holtz's 1992 freshmen enrolled on the heels of a Sugar Bowl victory during the program's halcyon era.
Led by TJ Jones, Tommy Rees, Bennett Jackson and Prince Shembo (and previously, Louis Nix), these Irish seniors are a battle-tested collection of gamers that helped restore their school's place among college football's elite.
They'll win one more, No. 37 overall, the most for any group of Irishmen since Holtz's class of 1991 prevailed in the same number of games albeit in a disparate manner (10-3, 10-1-1, 11-1 -- including three straight major bowl victories -- before falling from grace with a 6-5-1 finish as seniors).
And per usual, it won't necessarily come easily.
In a game that stays too close for a bit too long, Notre Dame 31 Rutgers 13
Anna Hickey -- Recruiting ReporterEven with Notre Dame's inconsistency this season, I do not foresee Rutgers being competitive with the Irish for more than one quarter. The Scarlet Knights' defense has been less than stellar this season, and with ample time to prepare, I think Notre Dame will be clicking on offense, especially the passing game.
Notre Dame's defense showed great improvement towards the end of the regular season, especially in regards to the amount of pressure the front seven were able to generate. Notre Dame will dominate Rutgers in the trenches, and not surprisingly, that will tell the story of the game. Notre Dame 30 Rutgers 10
SeattleNDFan – ModeratorRutgers apparently reminds Coach Kelly of Pittsburgh, which is not an outwardly good thing, but Kelly remains 3-1 against Pitt at Notre Dame (duplicate number 2s on the field notwithstanding).
While ND fans anxious to build towards next year would love to see ND march the ball on the ground all game, Rutgers has one of the worst pass defenses in Division I, giving up an average of over 300 yards a game, meaning that it is far more likely we will see Tommy Rees get a bunch of opportunities, weather permitting. Fortunately, Rutgers does not appear to be able to make ND pay for that strategy, and once ND is up big, then the running game and Andrew Hendrix should both make an appearance to close it out.
The only intrigue on defense will be to see how the defense looks under Kerry Cooks, as without an official DC replacement it is quite possible that this game is an audition for that role moving forward.
Despite the proximity to the Rutgers fan base, this is a game that should not be close, and I don't expect that it will be. Notre Dame 49 Rutgers 13
Morrissey79 – ModeratorWhile the Pinstripe Bowl isn't one ND fans had dreamed of before the season, it will be nice to watch some of these kids play one last game in the ND uniform. Guys like Tommy Rees, Zack Martin, T.J. Jones, Kona Scwhenke, Prince Shembo, Dan Fox, Carlo Calabrese, & Bennett Jackson have been a vital part of growing this program to where it is today. They've given it their all and been crucial parts of some special games and a special 2012 season.
Honestly, Rutgers is a poor football team - they struggled all year, had a weak offense, an atrocious pass defense, and looked like they didn't care late in the season. Coach Flood has fired 3 assistant coaches and ND should be able to handle this team with ease.... that being said, ND should've done the same with Purdue, Pittsburgh, & Navy as well.
At the end of the day, I really don't know what to expect from this team - but my hope is given the names I listed above only have one more opportunity to represent ND, and with some of the younger players having an opportunity to showcase their talent heading into the offseason like Tarean Folston, Will Fuller, Corey Robinson, the interior OL, Jaylon Smith, & Max Redfield, I think ND comes out strong and handles Rutgers with ease. ND 42 Rutgers 17
BNolan – ModeratorSans two major coaches/coordinators, this is still a game ND should win handily. Should. I am not excited about the matchup as Rutgers is... a yawner to me. So hopefully the Irish take it seriously and realize a loss or even a lackluster performance would be quite damaging to national perspective on the program, obviously to the prone-to-pounce press and impressionable recruits. Hopefully Kelly has learned a little about bowl preparation since the last clinic he attended. With that said, the Irish should behave like the better team that they are... ND 37 Rutgers 20
KurzND – ModeratorND faces a Rutgers team that is 6-6 and has not played well versus decent teams. With smaller and weaker linemen then and has faced the clear favorite is ND.
Kelly should be giving the younger guys who have shown flashes to proven themselves. Folston should not receive anything less than 15-20 carries. We know what Cam can do. The Running game is key. Rutgers has a top 15, 10 run defense but they didn't play many excellent running teams and most teams threw all over Rutgers. Rutgers on offense has been awful this year interns of QB and OL play. ND shouldn't get cute. Run the ball 30+ times and send pressure to Rutgers QB and ND fans end the year happy. ND 38 Rutgers 10
Amruther24 – ModeratorOutside of the national title game, I generally feel that bowl games are important for one thing: extra practice. Even that game isn't necessarily an indicator of future success or that a team has "arrived". Since the beginning of SEC dominance of the game, the average win-loss record the following season of the game's loser is 9-4. In other words, Notre Dame taking a step back is not necessarily out of the norm.
Notre Dame's recent bowl results have meant nothing to the following season. Blow out Miami in 2010? Stumbled out of the gates the next year on the way to a disappointing 8-5 year. Allow FSU to come back in the 4th to win a game they had no business winning? Follow with a dream 12-0 regular season. Play in the national title game, but get blown out by the Alabama juggernaut at the peak of its powers? Muddle through a mediocre season rife with instability.
Having said this, I do believe this bowl game is important for Brian Kelly and the Irish. They have been a resilient team that has struggled through untimely departures, injuries, and maddening inconsistency.
However, all of that noise will be lost to history, but the season record will not. Saturday's game is the difference between a third 8-5 finish in four years, which starts to look like a pattern, and a 9-4 year that is in step with previous national title game losers as they look to find consistency going forward. Perception is huge and one more loss or one more win will go a long way in determining the perception of this program going into the offseason.
The game will likely be closer than it should be and it certainly won't be pretty, but Notre Dame finishes their season at 9-4. Notre Dame 28 Rutgers 24
GaviND -- ModeratorAfter another season of mediocrity, the Notre Dame football team is prepared to battle (pillow fight?) a 6-6 Rutgers squad in the Pinstripe Bowl. Staring an 8-5 record in the face for the third time in four years, the Irish enter Saturday's game as the prohibitive favorite...but if the 2013 season has taught us anything, it's that nothing Saturday will come easy.
Despite playing with an injury-ravaged offensive line, I anticipate Notre Dame's Tommy Rees-led offense to put up points in bunches. On the ground, look for Freshman Tarean Folston to get the bulk of the carries early and to continue to live up to the hype he has generated in the latter part of the season. As the run game begins to wear the Scarlet Knights down, look for Rees (my choice for game MVP) to do some serious work through the air!
Defensively, I have no idea what to expect from the Irish -- which likely tells you all you need to know about the 2013 season. For their part, however, I do not expect Rutgers to go down without a fight. Playing what essentially amounts to a home game, look for the Scarlet Knights to do anything they can to hang in the game.
Notre Dame WILL win this game. There is little doubt in my mind about that...I just hope they spare our fan base the fourth quarter drama that has marked this season. ND 41 Rutgers 24