Rapid Reaction: Notre Dame 29, Rutgers 16

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
3:44
PM ET
NEW YORK -- Some quick thoughts on Notre Dame's 29-16 win over Rutgers on Saturday in the fourth-annual Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium:

What it means: Notre Dame wraps up a disappointing season with a bowl game victory -- its first since 2010. The Fighting Irish weren't especially sharp but were able to pull away late in the second half. Notre Dame, ranked No. 25 in The Associated Press poll, finishes the season 9-4.

Rutgers, a heavy underdog, hung tough against a more talented opponent. Nevertheless, the Scarlet Knights lose their final game before entering the Big Ten next season. Rutgers finishes this season with a losing record at 6-7.

The turning point: The two teams played to a 13-13 draw in the first half. Notre Dame outgained Rutgers and had a significant advantage in time of possession, but the Fighting Irish had trouble finishing drives.

The second half was more of the same, until Notre Dame finally broke the game open with a 10-play, 79-yard drive that was capped off with a three-yard touchdown run by Tarean Folston. That made the score 26-16 with under four minutes remaining, and the Fighting Irish finished off the victory from there.

Star watch: Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees completed 27 of 47 passes for 319 yards in his final college game. That put him over 3,000 passing yards for the season -- the third quarterback in Notre Dame history to accomplish that feat.

Wide receiver TJ Jones, also playing his final game for the Fighting Irish, had five catches for 66 yards and four carries for 16 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown run in the first half.

Rutgers senior quarterback Chas Dodd finished just 10-for-28 for 156 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

Number crunch: The final score doesn't show it, but Notre Dame dominated this game. The Fighting Irish outgained the Scarlet Knights by 258 yards (494-236), had nearly twice as many first downs (31-16) and had possession for 38 minutes, 16 seconds.

And keep in mind that Notre Dame was without second-leading rusher George Atkinson III, who was suspended for the game.

Picture perfect: You couldn't ask for a better day in late December in New York City. The temperature was 45 degrees at kickoff, and the game was played under a clear blue sky.

The sellout crowd of 47,122 was the largest yet for the Pinstripe Bowl.

What's next: Yankee Stadium undergoes yet another offseason conversion, this time to an ice rink. The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils will face off Jan. 26, and the Rangers will play the New York Islanders three days later.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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