Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers and Notre Dame may have local appeal, but is it a good matchup?

Dr. Saturday

Pinstripe Bowl
Notre Dame vs. Rutgers
New York, NY
Dec. 28, 2013

This game means more to the New York City area than it does to the rest of the country.

Notre Dame's popularity in New York City is sky-high, and Rutgers -- the state university of New Jersey -- isn't too far from Yankee Stadium. It's a familiar venue for the Scarlet Knights too. Rutgers was at the Pinstripe Bowl in 2011 against Iowa State and won. Plus, in a rarity for a smaller bowl, the school made money that year. It expects to once again.

So there will be butts in the seats at Yankee Stadium. Will there be butts on the couches across the country to watch? Sure, Notre Dame's national appeal can be transcendent, but this is a game that kicks off at Noon ET on a Saturday between Christmas and New Year's. And it's featuring a team in Rutgers that's 6-6 and a Notre Dame team that's 8-4.

Rutgers struggled through a weak American Athletic Conference, going 3-5. The highlight of the season may have been the season-opening one-point loss to Fresno State in OT. A win there would have certainly changed the storyline for the Bulldogs, and who knows what it would have done for Rutgers. Instead, the best win that the Knights have is a OT win over 5-7 SMU. The Arkansas win looks nice, but Arkansas was just flat terrible this year.

Gary Nova started the season at quarterback for Rutgers, but after tossing 18 touchdowns and 14 picks, Chas Dodd has started the last two games and will start the bowl game.

Notre Dame is the better team, and it's pretty clear. But if you're looking for the determining factor in Saturday's game, you can do far worse than focusing on Tommy Rees's performance.

The senior quarterback will start his final game for the Fighting Irish and he has five games with no interceptions this season and five games with multiple picks. Notre Dame won all five of the no interception games. The Irish lost four of the multiple interception games. The only win was a 38-34 nailbiter at home against Navy. But Notre Dame may be better enough than Rutgers to overcome a poor game by Rees if necessary.

MASCOT FIGHT

This may be one of the best mascot matchups we'll have all season. A knight's got some armor and a sword, but do you ever want to underestimate a mad leprechaun? Think of the nasty and underhanded things he'll do if he gets backed into a corner. Slight advantage goes to the knight because of that sword, but this is close.

PREDICTIONS

Graham: Notre Dame 38, Rutgers 17. Rutgers is coming off its best game of the season against South Florida, but I'm not going to mistake that as some sort of dramatic turnaround. Notre Dame is the better team here and Rees will want to end his inconsistent ND career on a high note.

Nick: Notre Dame 34, Rutgers 14. It's the final Pinstripe Bowl possible appearance for Rutgers before it moves to the Big 10. And here's a preview of what many games will be like in the Big 10 in the near future. The only hope here is that it doesn't get so ugly that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany doesn't revoke the Scarlet Knights' invitation at halftime.

Sam: Notre Dame 31, Rutgers 20. There’s not really a reason to believe that a Rutgers team that barely beat Temple and lost to UConn has a chance to beat Notre Dame. With that said, they are coming off their best performance of the year against USF, so Dodd and company should keep it respectable. Rees might throw an interception or two, but he should still be in line for a big day.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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