NEW YORK -- Tommy Rees passed for 319 yards in his final college game, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals and No. 25 Notre Dame muddled through a 29-16 victory against Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday.
The Fighting Irish (9-4) finished their follow-up season to last year's run to the national championship game a long way from the BCS against a two-touchdown underdog trying to avoid a losing record.
Notre Dame's TJ Jones scored on an 8-yard run in the first quarter and Rutgers star Brandon Coleman answered with a 14-yard touchdown catch soon after. Tarean Folston's 3-yard touchdown run with 3:38 in the fourth made it 26-16 and finally gave the Irish a comfortable lead.
On the slick, cold turf at Yankee Stadium, the Pinstripe Bowl turned into a field-goal kicking contest. Brindza was 5 for 6. Kyle Federico made 3 of 3 for the Scarlet Knights (6-7).
The Irish dominated in yards (494-237) and time of possession (38:49) but bogged down in the red zone repeatedly.
Rees closed a college career packed with both memorable and forgettable moments with a solid performance, going 27 for 47.
The senior has been "The Closer," rallying Notre Dame to victories with late drives, and "Turnover Tommy," making crushing mistakes at the most inopportune times during four seasons in South Bend.
Against one of the worst pass defenses in the nation on Saturday, Rees' greatest accomplishment was not throwing an interception.
Twice Notre Dame put together double-digit play drives that ended in short field goals for Brindza. A 15-play, 90-yard march that started in the third quarter and ended in the fourth with Brindza's 25-yarder made it 19-13 Notre Dame with 12:46 left.
Brindza's third field goal, a 26-yarder with 6:03 left in the third quarter, gave Notre Dame a 16-13 lead -- after the Irish caught a break. Brindza had missed from 36 yards but Rutgers was flagged for running into the kicker to give him a second, easier, try.
North Carolina 39, Cincinnati 17
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 beat Cincinnati 39-17 on Saturday 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, and Jack Tabb caught a touchdown pass as the Tar Heels closed the season by winning six of their final seven games.
Russell Athletic Bowl
No. 18 Louisville 36, Miami 9
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Teddy Bridgewater threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score in No. 18 Louisville's 36-9 victory over Miami on Saturday night in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The Cardinals (12-1) spotted Miami (9-4) an early 2-0 lead, then dominated the rest of the way, racking up 554 total yards to the Hurricanes' 174.
Bridgewater was 35 for 45 for career-high 447 yards.
The win was the second straight bowl victory for Louisville and also marks the program's second 12-win season.
With Cardinals' fans chanting "Teddy! Teddy!" at times throughout the game Bridgewater, projected to be a top NFL Draft pick if he comes out this summer, set a school record with 31 touchdown passes this season.
The Miami native also tied the school record with his 27th victory as Louisville's starter.
The Hurricanes, playing in their first bowl game since 2010, haven't had a bowl victory since 2006, losing four straight.