Sponsor: New Era
Location: New York City
Matchup: Notre Dame vs. Rutgers
Payout: $1.8 million
The 4-year-old "Syracuse/Rutgers University vs. Team X" bowl finally has the matchup it's always wanted. Notre Dame's subway alumni in New York are a long-standing and scarcely tolerated lot that often considers this team from South Bend a local favorite.
Rutgers, meanwhile, continues its flirtation with national relevance without builder and former coach Greg Schiano -- who left to become the reviled head of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and make Tampa fans wish team still blacked out home games. Rutgers is in its last year with the American Conference -- best known as the picked-over corpse of the former Big East conference -- before heading to the Big 10 and is getting a head start on one of that conference's grandest traditions: Playing Notre Dame, developing a healthy hatred for that school and then dealing with the impotent rage that results from its refusal to join your conference.
College football really needs this game to pay some dividends, as the New York metro area is a giant vacuum of college football filled only occasionally by alumni groups from Penn State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Boston College and more far-flung athletic conferences. As any SEC grad who's ever watched a game at a Brother Jimmy's location in Manhattan well knows, there's just about nobody fighting you for the remote when your alma mater's game is on.
The Pinstripe Bowl has been a grand effort to change that perception and make New York to college football what the Big East Championship and National Invitational Tournament made it to college basketball. Unless Connecticut, Villanova, Temple or especially Rutgers steps it up soon, NYC and the Pinstripe Bowl will remain weigh stations in college football's no-man's land.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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