Notre Dame's Fighting Irish are playing in a bowl for the fourth straight season under coach Brian Kelly and for the eighth time in the last 11 seasons. But Notre Dame hasn't had much luck in bowls recently, going just 2-9 both straight-up and against the spread in bowls.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are relative newcomers to this bowl thing, but they seem to have the hang of it. The Knights are 5-2 SU and 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven bowl appearances.
Notre Dame and Rutgers meet in the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx with the Irish huge favorites.
Point spread: Fighting Irish opened as 17.5-point favorites; the total was 51. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 28.7-22.6 Fighting Irish
Why the Knights can cover the Pinstripe Bowl spread
The Knights began this season with a one-point overtime loss to Fresno State (who ended up going 11-1), then won four in a row. Rutgers struggled after that, losing five of its next six games. But in must-win mode, they beat South Florida in the season finale to become bowl-eligible.
The Knights had to make a late-season change at quarterback and got a nice performance from senior Chas Dodd in the bowl-clinching victory.
And while the defensive secondary leaves much to be desired, Rutgers has been good against the run, holding foes to 95 yards per game on the ground. The Pinstripe Bowl betting history shows Rutgers has already won this bowl once.
Why the Irish can cover the Pinstripe Bowl spread
The Golden Domers are the only team to have beaten Big Ten champion Michigan State this season. They also own wins over bowl-bound Arizona State, USC, Navy and BYU, while all four of their losses, to Michigan, Oklahoma, Pitt and Pac-12 champion Stanford, have come against bowl-bound teams.
Offensively, the Irish move the ball mainly through the air with senior pivot Tommy Rees, who's thrown 27 touchdown passes this year, while the defense ranks 46th in the country, holding a schedule that included nine bowl teams to 377 YPG.
It’s the right time for Notre Dame to buck this losing bowl trend.
The east coast entrants (Syracuse, Rutgers and Syracuse again) have won and covered the first three Pinstripe Bowls over their more Western foes (Kansas State, Iowa State and West Virginia), which would indicate the Knights might hold a “home-territory” edge for this bowl.
But Rutgers is lucky just to be in a bowl. It couldn't even manage a .500 record in the AAC this season.
Also, Notre Dame might even have the crowd on its side, considering the number of Irish faithful in the tri-state area. On the field, Rees should have success throwing against the Knights' porous pass defense, while Rutgers might have trouble moving the ball against the Notre Dame defense.
Give the points with the Irish.
- Rutgers won the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl
- Notre Dame is 2-9 ATS past 11 bowl games
- Rutgers is 5-1-1 ATS past seven bowl games