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Pinstripe Bowl Preview: Irish Heavy Favorites over Scarlet Knights

notredamefootball-wrThe Rutgers Scarlet Knights will take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in their final football game before heading over to the  Big Ten next season. A win over the Irish would sure be a nice confidence booster for them as they move into a mush tougher league than the Big East/American Athletic. The Knights didn’t exactly tear up the AAC this season either, getting pummeled by the UCF Knights 41-17, the Cincinnati Bearcats 52-17, the Houston Cougars 49-14 and even managed to lose to the lowly UConn Huskies 28-17. They also lost a heart-breaker to the Fresno State Bulldogs 52-51 and the Louisville Cardinals 24-10. In the Scarlet Knights’ defense, all but UConn have or will play in a bowl game.

So how did the Knights qualify for a bowl anyway? They did it by beating the South Florida Bulls in the regular season finale 31-6 to snap a three game skid and finish at 6-6. They also beat the SMU Mustangs 55-52, otherwise the Ponies would likely be playing the Irish today instead of the Knights. Rutgers also had a nice comeback win early in the season over the SEC’s Arkansas Razorbacks 28-24 in a game they trailed 24-7 at one point.

The Scarlet Knights were led by quarterback Gary Nova for most of the season. Nova threw 18 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions before being replaced by today’s starter Chas Dodd. Dodd led the Knights to the win over the Bulls to get them here. He has two touchdowns and three picks in his limited action.

The Irish come into the game at 8-4. They have wins over the Rose Bowl bound Michigan State Spartans 17-13, the Holiday Bowl bound Arizona State Sun Devils 37-34, Las Vegas Bowl Champions, the USC Trojans 14-10 and the Armed Forces Bowl bound Navy Midshipmen 38-34. They also beat the Fight Hunger Bowl runner-up BYU Cougars 23-13. The Irish losses were to the Rose Bowl bound Stanford Cardinal 27-20, the Little Caesar’s Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Panthers 28-21, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl bound Michigan Wolverines 41-30 and the Sugar Bowl bound Oklahoma Sooners 35-21. That is a very tough schedule that the Irish played and were only a few plays away from possibly playing in a BCS Bowl game.

They were led by quarterback Tommy Rees, who had to fill in for Everett Ghoulston who was deemed academically ineligible just before the start of the season after leading Notre Dame to the BCS Championship Game a year ago. He has 2938 yards on the season with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He will have a great chance to pad those numbers against a porous pass defense today. Look for wide receiver T. J. Jones to add to his 1042 yards and nine touchdown catches today for the Irish.

The game is a huge ticket draw in Yankee Stadium as a sellout crowd is expected. The Irish have a huge following in New York City and the Knights are the State University of neighboring New Jersey. They are probably the two closest schools New York has to a hometown college football team. So at least we won’t have one of those three-fourths empty stadiums we’ve seen at a lot of the games thus far. It should be exciting.

Sportsbook has Rutgers +14.5 -110 and the Irish -14.5 -110 ATS. Moneyline is the Scarlet Knights +475 and the Irish -640. Over/Under is 53.5 with over and under both -110. We like Rutgers to beat the spread in this one. They will likely be the more motivated team here. So take the Knights +14.5 -110 but also take the Irish -640. We also like the under -110 because if the Knights are to beat the spread, the defense will have to step it up.



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