The most hyped-up matchup of the college football weekend took place in the Bronx yesterday, with two ranked schools clashing late in the season. Unfortunately, the game didn’t quite match the hype. The No.3 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish pummeled the No.12 Syracuse Orange 36-3 in the Shamrock Series, with Syracuse’s only points of the game coming in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
The hype around the game did properly set up what one could expect from a football game in a historic baseball venue. Since the opening of Yankee Stadium III in 2009, Hal Steinbrenner set his sights on returning to college football, and secured it with the New Era Pinstripe Bowl that began in 2010. Below are some of the best games to occur in the home of the Bombers.
#5) 2017 Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa 27, Boston College 20
Last year’s bowl game stands out because it bucks the trend of modern football. The Hawkeyes won despite failing to produce 100 yards of offense from the passing game, instead relying on a 50/50 split with their running efforts and clutch turnovers forced by their defense.
Running back Akrum Wadley handled the majority of the hand offs for Iowa, but the game was decided on the lone attempt of Drake Kulick. The 6-1, 240 pound halfback pushed through for one yard to punch the ball into the end zone and give the Hawkeyes the lead with three minutes left.
#4) 2016 Pinstripe Bowl: Northwestern 31, Pitt 24
Decisive scoring in the second and fourth quarters gave Northwestern the victory when they clashed with Pittsburgh in the Pinstripe Bowl two years ago. Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman (now of Buffalo Bills infamy) was sharp all game, completing 72 percent of his throws for 253 yards, but was sidelined alongside running back James Conner (now of Pittsburgh Steelers fame) for the entire fourth quarter.
Despite this, Pitt took the lead less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson responded, leading the Wildcats to the end zone for his sole touchdown of the game with just above eight minutes remaining in the game. Pitt backup Ben DiNucci ended the game by throwing an interception to Kyle Queiro with 1:22 left.
#3) 2014 Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State 31, Boston College 30
Penn State was making their first bowl appearance post-Paterno sanctions when they played against Boston College four years ago. Head coach James Franklin was in his first season with the Nittany Lions, and his quarterback delivered a fantastic performance.
Christian Hackenberg torched the Eagles secondary, throwing for 371 yards and four touchdowns. Hackenberg led Penn State down the field with just 20 seconds left in regulation to set up a game-tying field goal by Sam Ficken. In overtime, Boston College scored a touchdown but missed the extra point, setting up Hackenberg to drive down the field one more time. Hackenberg found Kyle Carter in the end zone, and Ficken placed his kick between the uprights to win the game.
#2) 2015 Pinstripe Bowl: Duke 44, Indiana 41
Prior to the game, the Duke football program hadn’t won a bowl game in 55 years, dating back all the way to 1960. Coach David Cutcliffe completed his rebuilding of the program by securing the victory in dramatic fashion.
Entering the final minutes of the game, Duke was down seven to the Hoosiers. The Blue Devils drove 78 yards in 3:22 seconds, punching the ball in on a 5-yard run by Thomas Sirk with just 41 seconds left. In overtime Duke only managed a field goal, giving Indiana the chance to take the whole thing. The Blue Devils defense held firm though, and Griffin Oakes missed a 38-yard attempt that would have forced double overtime.
#1) 2010 Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse 36, Kansas State 34
The distinction of best football game at Yankee Stadium however, goes to the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl. Back when it was a matchup of the Big East and the Big 12, Syracuse and K-State met up for a thrilling bowl match that saw neither team commit a turnover. Instead, the two traded blows and ultimately came down to the last possession.
Kansas State went up one point with 13 minutes to go on a one-yard rush by Daniel Thomas. Syracuse answered, with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Nassib to Marcus Sales. Then, with just over three minutes to play, Syracuse kicker Ross Krautman kicked a 40-yard field goal to put the Orange up eight. K-State quarterback Carson Coffman led his team down the field, culminating in a 30-yard touchdown to Adrian Hilburn, but the Wildcats could not convert a two-point conversion that would have tied the game.
What football game at the New Yankee Stadium stood out to you the most? Have you managed to make it to a game, and if so, what did you think about the transformation of the Stadium? Let us know in the comments below.
(All information on the bowl games was provided by sports-reference.com)