NEW YORK – This nicely sums up Tommy Rees’ Notre Dame career:
The senior threw for 319 yards with no interceptions in his final college game, leading No. 25 Notre Dame to a 29-16 victory against Rutgers that was far from pretty but ultimately successful — and an offensive lineman won the most valuable player award in Saturday’s Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
“I was giving Tommy a hard time,” said senior tackle Zack Martin, who took home the award. “I think he got snubbed a little bit.”
Rees finished four years of football for the Fighting Irish packed with both memorable and forgettable moments with a solid performance, going 27 for 47. He has been “The Closer,” rallying Notre Dame to victories with late drives, and “Turnover Tommy,” making crushing mistakes at the most inopportune moments, during his time in South Bend, Ind.
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For his finale, against one of the worst pass defenses in the nation, Rees was virtually mistake-free and productive. He missed some throws that could have broken open the game, but, typically, he persevered.
“I’m a Tommy Rees fan for life,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said.
Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals for the Fighting Irish (9-4), who completed their follow-up season to last year’s run to the national-championship game a long way from the Bowl Championship Series — facing a two-touchdown underdog that was trying to avoid a losing record.
Notre Dame’s play was less than inspired — Kelly said about a dozen players were fighting a flu bug — but the victory prevented the Irish from finishing with eight victories for the third time in his four seasons.
“A good season that could have been a great season,” Kelly said.
Notre Dame dominated in yards (494-237) and time of possession (38:49) but bogged down in the red zone repeatedly against the Scarlet Knights (6-7).
ESPN play-by-play man Chris Fowler posted on his Twitter account he needed broadcast partner Jesse Palmer to perform the Heimlich maneuver on him during halftime to avoid choking on a chicken sandwich.
“Never before needed a Heimlich at halftime. (Or any time)!” Fowler posted. “thanks Jesse Palmer! He saved me from death by dry chicken sandwich. Really.”
Kansas St. wins
TEMPE, Ariz. – Jake Waters threw for 271 yards and connected with Tyler Lockett on three touchdowns, leading Kansas State to its first bowl victory in 11 years, 31-14 over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Kansas State (8-5) scored on its first three possessions, all touchdown passes from Waters to Lockett, and its defense dominated the Wolverines (7-6) to end a five-game losing streak in bowls.
Michigan freshman Shane Morris was steady in place of injured starter Devin Gardner, completing 24 of 38 passes for 196 yards. Morris is the first Wolverines quarterback to make his starting debut in a bowl game.
The Wildcats, who won five of their last six games, had 420 yards on offense and limited Michigan to 261.
The Wolverines limped to the finish after a 5-0 start to the season.
N. Carolina rolls
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – 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 defeat Cincinnati 39-17 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 as North Carolina closed the season by winning six of its final seven games.
Cincinnati (9-4) couldn’t supply an encore to last year’s 48-34 Belk Bowl victory over Duke.
|2013-14 bowl games|
|The BCS National Championship is Jan. 6 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.|
|New Mexico||Colorado State 48, Washington State 45|
|Las Vegas||USC 45, Fresno State 20|
|Idaho Potato||San Diego State 49, Buffalo 24|
|New Orleans||Louisiana-Lafayette 24, Tulane 21|
|Beef ‘O’ Brady’s||East Carolina 37, Ohio 20|
|Sheraton Hawaii||Oregon State 38, Boise State 23|
Little Caesars Pizza
|Pittsburgh 30, Bowling Green 27|
|Poinsettia||Utah State 21, Northern Illinois 14|
|Military Bowl||Marshall 31, Maryland 20|
|Syracuse 21, Minnesota 17|
|Washington 31, Brigham Young 16|
New Era Pinstripe
|Notre Dame 29, Rutgers 16|
|Belk||North Carolina 39, Cincinnati 17|
|Louisville 36, Miami 9|
Buffalo Wild Wings
|Kansas State 31, Michigan 14|
|Armed Forces||Middle Tennessee vs. Navy||Dec. 30, Fort Worth, Texas||8:45 a.m. ESPN|
|Music City||Mississippi vs. Georgia Tech||Dec. 30, Nashville, Tenn.||12:15 p.m. ESPN|
|Alamo||Oregon vs. Texas||Dec. 30, San Antonio||3:45 p.m. ESPN|
|Holiday||Arizona State vs. Texas Tech||Dec. 30, San Diego||7:15 p.m. ESPN|
|Arizona vs. Boston College||Dec. 31, Shreveport, La.||9:30 a.m. ESPN|
|Sun||Virginia Tech vs. UCLA||Dec. 31, El Paso, Texas||11 a.m. Ch. 7|
|Liberty||Rice vs. Mississippi State||Dec. 31, Memphis, Tenn.||1 p.m. ESPN|
|Texas A&M vs. Duke||Dec. 31, Atlanta||5 p.m. ESPN|
|Gator||Nebraska vs. Georgia||Jan. 1, Jacksonville, Fla.||9 a.m. ESPN2|
|Heart of Dallas||UNLV vs. North Texas||Jan. 1, Dallas||9 a.m. ESPNU|
|Capital One||Wisconsin vs. South Carolina||Jan. 1, Orlando, Fla.||10 a.m. Ch. 4|
|Outback||Iowa vs. Louisiana State||Jan. 1, Tampa, Fla.||10 a.m. ESPN|
|Rose Bowl||Stanford vs. Michigan State||Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.||2 p.m. ESPN|
|Fiesta||Baylor vs. Central Florida||Jan. 1, Glendale, Ariz.||5:30 p.m. ESPN|
|Sugar||Alabama vs. Oklahoma||Jan. 2, New Orleans||5:30 p.m. ESPN|
|Cotton||Missouri vs. Oklahoma State||Jan. 3, Arlington, Texas||5 p.m., Ch. 13|
|Orange||Ohio State vs. Clemson||Jan. 3, Miami Gardens, Fla.||5:30 p.m. ESPN|
|Compass||Vanderbilt vs. Houston||Jan. 4, Birmingham, Ala.||10 a.m. ESPN|
|GoDaddy||Arkansas State vs. Ball State||Jan. 5, Mobile, Ala.||6 p.m. ESPN|
|BCS||Florida State vs. Auburn||Jan. 6, Pasadena, Calif.||5:30 p.m. ESPN|
|Note: Game times subject to change|