One year after playing for the BCS national championship against mighty Alabama, Notre Dame found itself struggling mightily to score a 29-16 victory against a less-than-mediocre Rutgers team Saturday in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
Reflecting on a 9-4 season without suspended quarterback Everett Golson, who will return next fall, Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said: “It was a good year. It could’ve been a great year. We want more ... 9-4 is a good year for Notre Dame, but it’s not what we sign up for every year.”
Although the ending was relatively happy, Notre Dame’s performance against the Scarlet Knights (6-7) mirrored its season. The Irish ran up 494 yards on offense, converted 8 of 17 third and fourth downs, picked off four Rutgers passes and had drives of 71, 62, 43, 71, 90 and 79 yards, but they didn’t pull away until running back Tarean Folston punched across a 3-yard TD run for a 26-16 cushion with 3:38 left to play. Until then, it was anybody’s game.