Rutgers vs. Notre Dame: Storylines to Watch in Pinstripe Bowl 2013

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2013

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 02:  Johnathan Aiken #26 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights celebrates with teammates Delon Stephenson #27 and  Marcus Thompson #48 after an interception during the first quarter against the Temple Owls at High Point Solutions Stadium on November 2, 2013 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

It is easy for average college football fans to overlook some of the 35 bowl games taking place this season. However, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl is a matchup even casual fans should want to see.

The game takes place at Yankee Stadium, which in itself is a sight to behold. It also adds to the impressive history for Notre Dame in New York City, as noted by ESPN's Chris Fowler:

The Fighting Irish might have had a down year, but the 8-4 squad still features many athletes from last season's appearance in the national title game. 

Meanwhile, Rutgers was one of only five bowl-eligible teams from the new American Athletic Conference, and the team is certainly looking forward to returning to the Pinstripe Bowl after winning the event in 2011.

This is only the start of the interesting storylines to follow. Here is a guide for the matchup along with other key things to look for in the upcoming game. 

When: Saturday, Dec. 28 at 12 p.m. ET

Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

Odds (via Vegas Insider): Notre Dame -14

Top Storylines

Will Tommy Rees Become "Turnover Tommy" in His Final Game?

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 07: Tommy Rees #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish gets ready to take on the Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Tommy Rees came to Notre Dame with plenty of talent, but he has seen four inconsistent years thanks to his knack for throwing interceptions at the worst time.

The quarterback threw 14 picks as a sophomore in 2011 before losing his job to Everett Golson as a junior. When he took over again as a senior this year, he once again struggled to hold onto the ball.

Rees had five multi-interception games, leading to four losses and a narrow victory over Navy. Obviously, he is negatively affecting the team with his mistakes.

The good news is that Rutgers has struggled against the pass this year and has forced only eight interceptions all year while allowing 31 passing touchdowns.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the following regarding Rees' legacy, via Jim Johnston of WNDU: "Legacy is such a big word for me. I just love the way the kid competes out there. He is not going to go into the College Football Hall of Fame, you know what I mean, he doesn't have those incredible skills. But, he just puts his heart and soul into what he does."

A strong performance in his final game would certainly help people think well of him. 

Can Chas Dodd Have Another Strong Game at Yankee Stadium?

PISCATAWAY, NJ - OCTOBER 08:  Chas Dodd #19 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights throws a pass against the Connecticut Huskies at Rutgers Stadium on October 8, 2010 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Two years ago, Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano spent the end of the season struggling to picking between quarterbacks Gary Nova and Chas Dodd. While both played in the Pinstripe Bowl, Dodd had the better performance, completing 10 of his 17 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown in a winning effort.

While Nova has taken over the starting spot, Dodd is once again in the picture and led the Scarlet Knights to victory in the team's most recent game against South Florida.

Head coach Brian Flood discussed the move to put Dodd under center, per Tom Luicci of The Newark Star-Ledger:

Chas has been a very diligent worker the entire season, which I would expect. Chas is an unselfish guy and he's a competitor. When we first made the decision (that Nova was the starter for this year after last season) I said to him `you have to be ready. You don't know when your opportunity is going to come. Now that opportunity has arrived.

The senior quarterback has a lot of poise in the pocket, which will help him against a quality defense.

Considering the Irish have struggled to get to the quarterback all year, Dodd has a chance to have a strong performance in this one.

What Will the Crowd Be Like?

The football field set up at Yankee Stadium is intriguing, even in an empty stadium:

That being said, the crowd at the Pinstripe Bowl should have a big impact on the game. The question is which fans do a better job of filling the stadium.

Rutgers is close to New York City and has plenty of fans in the area, which is one of the reasons the school was such a big draw for the Big Ten.

On the other hand, Notre Dame has fans everywhere in the country. The Irish faithful have a knack for filling stadiums wherever the team is playing.

The Irish were 5-1 at home this year, and they could be in good shape in this matchup if their fans make it seem like yet another home game.

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