No. 25 Notre Dame (8-4) vs. Rutgers (6-6)
LINE: Notre Dame by 14.
SERIES RECORD: Notre Dame 4-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Fighting Irish are trying to avoid a third 8-5 season in four years under coach Brian Kelly – a season after reaching the BCS championship with a perfect regular season. The Scarlet Knights are trying to salvage a disappointing season with what would be one of their biggest upsets in recent years.
KEY MATCHUP: Notre Dame WRs TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels and TE Troy Niklas against Rutgers’ secondary. The Scarlet Knight’s pass defense has been among the worst in the country, suffering through a combination of inexperience and injuries. Rutgers is tied for 100th in yards per pass, 103rd in completion percentage allowed and 122nd in yards passing allowed per game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Notre Dame–DE Stephon Tuitt. The junior could be playing his final college game, with the NFL in his future. Tuitt wasn’t quite as good this season as he was in 2012, but he still lead the team with six sacks and had 13 quarterback hurries.
Rutgers–DE Darius Hamilton. The talented sophomore has improved as the season has gone on and leads the team with 10 tackles for loss. His ability to get pressure on QB Tommy Rees is the Scarlet Knights’ only hope to stop the pass.
FACTS & FIGURES: Rutgers has allowed at least 400 passing yards four times this season. … Notre Dame is 16-6-3 at Yankee Stadium. All but two of those games were against Army. … The Fighting Irish beat five teams that reached bowl games this season. The Scarlet Knights have no victories against teams that reached six wins. … Notre Dame is playing with two interim coordinators. Mike Denbrock runs the offense after Chuck Martin left for Miami, Ohio. Kerry Cooks took over the defense after Bob Diaco became head coach at UConn. … Rutgers has an interim defensive coordinator. Special teams coordinator Joe Rossi took over after Dave Cohen was fired. … Rutgers RB Paul James needs 167 yards to reach 1,000 for the season, despite missing four games.