Rutgers went 6-6 while playing in the diluted American Athletic Conference this year, then fired three coaches — including its defensive coordinator — following the season. That's not exactly the mark of a quality team, no matter how much Notre Dame espouses the virtues of Rutgers' win over 3-9 Arkansas.
Consider this: By one measure, the Pinstripe Bowl is the second-greatest mismatch of bowl season.
Going by F/+ — which combines Brian Fremeau's Efficiency Index with Bill Connelly's S&P+ ratings — Notre Dame ranks 25th while Rutgers is 90th among FBS teams.
That 65-team gap is only topped in a bowl matchup by Eastern Carolina (No. 38) and Ohio (No. 104). A full list of the F/+ rankings in this year's bowl matchups is here.
F/+ doesn't factor in wins and losses — opponent quality, drive success and play success are the components in these numbers — but Rutgers doesn't have a single good win this season, with its best victory a three-point overtime win over 5-7 SMU. While losses to Fresno State, Louisville, Houston, Cincinnati and UCF aren't bad losses, only one of those — a one-point overtime loss to Fresno State — was by less than two touchdowns.
A 28-17 loss to UConn, too, only adds to Rutgers' poor resume.
Of course, Notre Dame lost to Pitt (ranked No. 59 in F/+) and was taken to the wire by 1-11 Purdue (No. 114), so by no means is the Pinstripe Bowl a guaranteed win for the Irish. Still, it's a win that should be expected given the numbers.