Our long national nightmare appears to be over. Notre Dame, in bowl limbo in its final year before becoming part of the ACC's bowl affiliations, will reportedly play in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York on Dec. 28.
CBS college football reporter Jeremy Fowler first reported the story.
Notre Dame has not confirmed the report, but from a tweet from Notre Dame defensive lineman Jarron Jones, Irish players appear to have been told of their postseason destination. Kickoff on Dec. 28 is set for 12:15 p.m. on ESPN.
After the Champs Sports Bowl used its once-in-four-years option to select Notre Dame in 2011, the Irish were left without any bowl tie-ins for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Of course, that issue never came to fruition last season with Notre Dame finishing 12-0 and qualifying for the BCS Championship Game. With Notre Dame's BCS bowl hopes this season squashed after a Nov. 9 loss to Pittsburgh, athletic director Jack Swarbrick has had nearly a month to assess the team's options for a 13th game.
The Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego), Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu), Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas) and AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Shreveport) were other potential landing spots for Notre Dame, all of which had tie-ins with conferences, or Army, in the case of the Poinsettia Bowl, that are unable to be filled with a bowl-eligible team.
The Pinstripe Bowl was first played in 2010 and has matched a Big East (now American Athletic Conference) team against a Big 12 team in its first three years of existence. With the Big 12 only having six bowl-eligible teams this year, Notre Dame is able to fill the open slot against an American opponent to be determined. Houston, who finished the season 8-4, is a likely candidate for the American slot, with 5-6 Rutgers also in the mix due to its proximity to New York. The Scarlet Knights must defeat USF Saturday night to be eligible for a bowl.
Notre Dame has played in the new Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009, once before, defeating Army 27-3 in 2010 in its annual Shamrock Series game. The Irish are scheduled to return to the New York metropolitan area next September when they play Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Irish last met Houston in the famous 1979 Cotton Bowl, known as the "Chicken Soup Game," in which Joe Montana overcame a bout with the flu on a frigid day in Dallas to lead Notre Dame back from a 34-16 deficit for a 35-34 win. Notre Dame and Rutgers have not met since 2002, when the Irish defeated the Scarlet Knights 42-0 in South Bend.
A matchup with the Cougars would pit Houston sophomore wide receiver Deontay Greenberry against the team to which he was verbally committed until a shocking National Signing Day flip to Houston. Greenberry leads the American in receiving with 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Temple is the lone common opponent among the three teams. Each team was victorious against the Owls this season.
|Potential Pinstripe Bowl Participants vs. Temple|
|Houston||Sept. 7||Philadelphia||W, 22-13|
|Notre Dame||Aug. 31||South Bend||W, 28-6|
|Rutgers||Nov. 2||Piscataway||W, 23-20|
The Irish and Cougars have a second common opponent in BYU. Notre Dame defeated BYU 23-13 on Nov. 23 in South Bend, while Houston lost the battle of teams named Cougars 47-46 at home on Oct. 19.
An official announcement will likely not come until Sunday, when the American representative is known.