The Notre Dame football team boarded a 747 airplane in South Bend Monday night and headed to the Big Apple where they will take on Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Irish know that the Scarlet Knights will be no pushover come December 28th.
Rutgers enters the game 6-6 with one of the top ten ranked rush defenses in college football. The Scarlet Knights started the season 4-1, but then lost five of their last seven. In fact they needed a win against South Florida on December 7th to even become bowl eligible. According to coach Kelly his team can not over look this team.
“We are 8-4 so I don’t know how good we are," Head coach Brian Kelly said. "If we were 12-0 we could probably listen to that. We have to play well or we are going to get beat. They are from New Jersey this is a big game for them. We have got to play well. If we go out there and don’t play well we aren’t good enough to beat Rutgers. I don’t listen to what other people say. They know who they are and our players know they have to go play. They have gone through the season. They know the opponent. They have played Temple, they have played teams that have played Rutgers so they know what they have to do.”
Kelly's players backed those statements when asked about what they had seen themselves from Rutgers on film.
“I think they are really talented. I think they have got guys that are physical up front," Irish running back Cam McDaniel said. "They can move really well laterally and make plays off of the ball or engage with linemen and get off blocks and make some key plays. I think that is going to be on of our biggest challenges, being able to consistently run the football and being able to control the tempo there.”
Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas added "Watching their D-line they do a lot of stunts and stuff with their D-line so that is going to be a little more difficult when we try to run on them which is why they are one of the best run stoppers in the nation right now."
The Irish defense knows they too will have their hands full Saturday afternoon. Defensive linemen Sheldon Day described Rutgers as "Great athletes" and he was not alone in that assessment.
“It is just the intensity and the liveliness that the Rutgers players play with," Notre Dame defensive linemen Kona Schwenke said. "They have really good skill players and a big offensive line. As far as D linemen we are going to prepare the same as every week and just prepare to go out and dominate.”
Kickoff for Saturday is set for 12:25 p.m.