NEW YORK — The Pinstripe Bowl trophy doesn’t gleam nearly as bright as the National Championship Coaches’ Trophy, but taking it home is still important to Notre Dame’s final self-evaluation of the season.
A win against Rutgers on Saturday, Dec. 28, moves Notre Dame to 9-4, preventing the Irish from matching the 8-5 mark it finished with two years ago.
“We’ve seen eight wins,” head coach Brian Kelly said during a media conference on Friday. “Nine looks better to us.”
But nine won’t cut it next year, when a four-team playoff replaces the current BCS structure. Kelly faces the reality that Notre Dame will have to be a double digit-win team to be considered for the playoffs.
“It sounds like an NFL line, but now will be about getting this program to play for a playoff spot each and every year,” Kelly said. “And that’s going to at least mean double-digit wins.”
Not that the Irish haven’t flirted with double-digit wins the past four years. The Irish finished 8-5 in 2010 but lost three games by fewer than four points. Notre Dame was 8-5 a year later, again dropping three games by fewer than four points.
Five of Notre Dame’s 12 wins in 2012 were decided by seven points or fewer. Two of Notre Dame’s losses this season were decided by seven points.
“If you look at the last couple of years, we were probably as close to being an eight-win team last year as we were a 12-win team,” Kelly said. “I think we were as close to being a 10-win team this year as we were an eight-win team. We’re very close to being able to put up double-digit wins each year, and that’s really the goal to compete for BCS opportunities.”