NEW YORK (AP) — The plan for Rutgers seemed to be playing out well. Keep Notre Dame out of the end zone, stay close heading into the fourth quarter and make a few plays to steal a victory in the Pinstripe Bowl.
The Scarlet Knights never did make those few plays.
Rutgers managed only 237 yards of offense and allowed far too many long drives to the Fighting Irish, who pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 29-16 victory Saturday.
"We thought we played good red zone defense and we could make them kick a few field goals and attempt some field goals, maybe we could block one and then win the game in the fourth quarter," Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood said. "We were kind of poised to do that."
Rutgers (6-7) heads to the Big Ten next year, leaving the American Athletic Conference (the former Big East) behind for much tougher competition. The Scarlet Knights will enter their new league coming off their first losing season since 2010 and just the second in the last nine years. Flood will need to show immediate improvement.
It'll help if he can find a quarterback.
Senior Chas Dodd, who became the starter late in the season because of Gary Nova's struggles, finished with 156 yards passing against Notre Dame, including a touchdown to star receiver Brandon Coleman.
"What we saw with their defense was just what we knew we would see," Dodd said. "We had a game plan ready to attack it. We just weren't able to because of our execution."
Coleman is off to the NFL, having decided to skip his senior season.
"We gave our best effort. It may not look like it on the scoreboard but this team gave our all and I want people to remember that." Coleman.
Tommy Rees passed for 319 yards in his final college game and Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals for Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish (9-4) finished their follow-up season to last year's run to the national championship game a long way from the BCS against a two-touchdown underdog trying to avoid a losing record.
Notre Dame's play was less than inspired — Kelly said about a dozen players were fighting a flu bug — but the win prevented the Irish from finishing with eight victories for the third time in his four seasons.