Pinstripe Bowl: Miami looking to end bowl-win drought at Rutgers’ expense

Field Level Media

December 25, 2023 at 2:24 am.

For Miami offensive lineman Jalen Rivers, a win in Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl against Rutgers at Yankee Stadium in New York would be important.

“We haven’t won a bowl game in a minute,” he said. “I don’t know when that was, but it’s been a minute. It’s important to just change that trajectory of us not winning bowl games. This will be an important step in the right direction, and it’s a step in the right direction heading into next year as well.

“So we can showcase what we have and what we put on film right now so we can have a better opportunity, a better confidence going into next year.”

The Hurricanes’ last bowl victory was Dec. 28, 2016, against West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

This season’s squad got off to a great start by winning all four of its nonconference games and earning a spot in the AP poll, but it stumbled early and often in Atlantic Coast Conference action. The lowlight was an October loss to Georgia Tech where Hurricanes coach Mario Cristobal’s strategic play-calling error gave the Yellow Jackets the ball back and a last chance to win. Georgia Tech completed the game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds.

Miami (7-5) wasn’t far from 10 wins in the regular season. It lost three conference games by a single score, including a 27-20 decision on Nov. 11 at unbeaten Florida State. But the Hurricanes’ underwhelming 3-4 conference record means all the headlines in South Florida are about Miami’s top-rated recruiting class in the ACC.

However, Cristobal said the opportunity to play in New York and at a historic venue should provide the necessary motivation for a good performance.

“For our players, it’s such a different and new experience,” he said. “They obviously know the legendary status of where we’ll be playing at and the caliber of the great opponent we have in Rutgers. … For them, a great experience, another opportunity to play game number 13.”

That opportunity won’t be shared by quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who hit the transfer portal for Wisconsin after throwing for 2,703 yards, 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this year.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is excited about the idea of playing in New York as well.

“There’s no place like New York around the Christmas holiday,” Schiano said. “Then throw in the great part of playing in such a great bowl game. It doesn’t get a lot better than that.”

Much like the Hurricanes, the Scarlet Knights (6-6) have a chance to end an up-and-down season on a high note. They opened up 6-2 but then crumbled in November, losing four straight Big Ten games by an average of 20 points.

But Rutgers is still playing just its second bowl game in nine years, and Schiano doesn’t plan on changing his approach now or any time soon. His Scarlet Knights teams are known for being physical, a mentality that starts with intense practices.

“I don’t want guys that think they are coming to one thing and all of a sudden they show up and it’s something totally different,” Schiano said. “We are transparent with it.”

Miami has won all 11 meetings between the teams. They have not met since 2003, when the Hurricanes beat Rutgers 34-10.