What: New Era Pinstripe Bowl
When: Saturday, Dec. 28, 12:15 pm ET (ESPN)
Where: Yankee Stadium (50,086), Bronx, NY
Opening Line: Notre Dame -15.5
What matters: While it's lost some novelty in the last few years of its existence, it's still somewhat fun to see college football being played in Yankee Stadium. Even if it is the new Yankee Stadium and not the original House that Ruth Built. Still, even if it is cool to play in Yankee Stadium, it's probably not as cool as Notre Dame will have you believe it is. The Irish already played a regular season game here and regressing from a berth in last year's title game to this year's Pinstripe Bowl wasn't exactly the plan. As for Rutgers, the season didn't live up to expectations, but considering how hard it was for the Knights to get to six wins, they're probably happy to be in this game against a marquee opponent.
Who matters: There will never be a Notre Dame game with Tommy Rees at quarterback in which is penchant for throwing costly interceptions will not be a factor. He's as dangerous to his own team at times as he is to his opponent, and he's helped by having dangerous weapons in T.J. Jones, Davaris Daniels and Troy Niklas, all of whom have caught at least five touchdowns this season. Speaking of quarterbacks who throw a lot of picks, Rutgers benched Gary Nova for Chas Dodd in its final two games of the season and Dodd was exceptional in the bowl-clinching win against USF to end the season.
Matchup question: There are two battles that I think will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game. The first one will be how the Notre Dame defense handles the loss of Louis Nix up front. The Irish have a lot of talent on defense, but they don't quite have anybody capable of replacing the man who calls himself Irish Chocolate. Rutgers hasn't been great running the ball this season, but a lot of that could be due to Paul James missing so much time with an injury. On the other side there's the Rutgers secondary, which has been decimated by injuries this season and just generally been an abysmal unit. Rutgers' defensive pass efficiency of 148.57 ranks 104th in the country, and the Knights have given up 31 touchdown passes to only eight interceptions.
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Rutgers 24