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By Everett Merrill, The Sports Xchange December 28, 2013 3:56 PM
The farthest north Notre Dame had played in the post-season was the 1983 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals for Notre Dame (9-4), which lost to Alabama last season in the national title game. Rutgers (6-7) is 5-4 in bowl games. Notre Dame was without speedy running back George Atkinson III, who was suspended for violating team rules. Atkinson is second on the Irish in rushing yards with 555 and scored three rushing touchdowns this season while catching seven passes for 55 yards. Running backs Cam McDaniel and Torrean Foster shared the workload in Atkinson's absence, rushing for 79 yards and 73 yards, respectively. Brindza tacked on his fourth field of the game, nailing a 25-yarder that ended a 15-play, 90-yard march with 12:46 to go in the game, giving the Irish a 19-13 lead. He added a 49-yarder late in the game. Foster scored on a three-yard run with 3:38 to play to move the Notre Dame lead to 26-16 with 3:38 to play. Brindza's third field goal, a 26-yarder, ended a 15-play, 71-yard drive that provided Notre Dame with a 16-13 cushion at 6:03 of the third quarter and took 4:55 off the clock. Quarterback Tommy Rees, operating out of an empty backfield for the majority of the first half, completed 27-of-47 passes to seven receivers for 319 yards. Tight end Troy Niklas led the Irish with four catches for 75 yards and T.J. Jones caught five passes for 66 yards. Rutgers has one of the worst passing defenses in the nation, ranking 113th in the nation. Chass Dodd of Rutgers passed for 171 yards, completing 10-of-28 passes, including three interceptions. Kyle Federico drilled an 18-yard field goal for Rutgers with 8:35 remaining in the second quarter, tying the score, 13-13. It was the third tie in the half. Brindza's second field goal of the first half, a 38-yarder with 12:59 left in the second quarter, gave the Fighting Irish a 13-10 lead. The first quarter featured an offensive explosion which ended in a 10-10 draw. Dodd threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Coleman, who made the 20th scoring reception of his career to tie a Rutgers school record for wide receivers. Federico's extra point with 1:51 to go in the quarter tied the score, 10-10. The teams combined for 232 total yards in the quarter. The Fighting Irish moved ahead, 10-3, on its second possession of the first quarter when Jones took a pitch and sprinted eight yards for his 11th touchdown of the season. Rees eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing mark this season on the drive, joining Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen as the only Notre Dame quarterbacks to achieve the mark. Quentin Gause of Rutgers recovered Jones' fumbled punt return at the Notre Dame 21, setting up Federico's 36-yard field goal that drew Rutgers even at 3-3 with 8:00 left in the first quarter. Notre Dame grabbed a 3-0 edge on its first possession of the game. Rees directed a 14-play, 71-yard drive that consumed 4:55 and ended with Brindza's 21-yard field goal. NOTES: Notre Dame leads the series 5-0. ... Rutgers was without WR Leonte Caroo, who had an upper body injury. ... The original Yankee Stadium hosted 185 college football games during its 85-year history. The stadium was the site of the annual Army-Notre Dame game from 1925-46 and 1969. ... Rutgers ranked fourth in the nation in rushing defense this season at 94.6 yards per game. ... WR T.J. Jones is the 10th player in Notre Dame history to record over 2,000 career receiving yards and ranks sixth in school history.