NEW YORK – Tommy Rees passed for 319 yards in his final college game, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals and No. 25 Notre Dame muddled through a 29-16 victory over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl Saturday.
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 TJ Jones scored on an 8-yard run in the first quarter and Rutgers star Brandon Coleman answered with a 14-yard touchdown catch soon after. Tarean Folston’s 3-yard touchdown run with 3:38 in the fourth made it 26-16 and finally gave the Irish a comfortable lead.
On the slick, cold turf at Yankee Stadium, the Pinstripe Bowl turned into a field-goal kicking contest. Brindza was 5 for 6. Kyle Federico made 3 of 3 for the Scarlet Knights (6-7). Rees was 27 of 47.
“I loved the way we were able to stay calm and stay within our offense and continue to kind of monotonously move the ball down the field,” Rees said.
North Carolina 39, Cincinnati 17: T.J. Logan returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown, and Ryan Switzer scored on an 86-yard punt return to help North Carolina beat Cincinnati for its first Belk Bowl victory in four attempts.
Marquise Williams threw for 171 yards and a touchdown for the Tar Heels (7-6) in their first bowl victory since 2010. Romar Morris scored on two short touchdown runs, and Jack Tabb caught a touchdown pass as the Tar Heels closed the season by winning six of their final seven games.
Cincinnati (9-4) was looking to become the bowl’s first back-to-back champion since Virginia did it 10 years ago, but last year’s MVP Brandon Kay was limited to 181 yards passing and no touchdowns.
The Tar Heels had five sacks, including one for a safety.
North Carolina came in having lost its previous three in-state Belk Bowl appearances, but bolted to a 23-3 halftime lead.