Published: Mon, January 01, 2018
Research | By Clarence Powell

Wild Music City Bowl leaves Northwestern victorious, fans confused

Wild Music City Bowl leaves Northwestern victorious, fans confused

In a game of what-will-they-think-of-next, there was an ejection of Kentucky's star running back and then Northwestern's top tackler.

Best moment: Watching injured Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson come back on the field in street clothes using crutches to watch NU in the second half.

After Northwestern backup quarterback Matt Alviti was stopped short on a fourth-down QB sneak, Kentucky took over at the Northwestern 39-yard line.

Johnson completed a pass for 16 yards to Justin Rigg, then ran it himself for six yards before taking a sack. Earlier in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats, leading 17-14, had another fourth-and-1, this time from the United Kingdom two-yard line. In the end, Kentucky fell one point short after Stoops chose to go for a two-point conversion late. The next Kentucky drive led to a touchdown, but when they made a decision to go for two to win the game, the pass was broken up by the NU defense in the far right endzone, sealing Northwestern's 24-23 win.

Kentucky would also lose a starter and a big one. Snell had just lost 7 yards on a run, and Coyte appeared to be trying to give Snell a hand up. The senior wide out caught a 25-yard pass from Johnson. He added two touchdowns and 17 yards on the ground.

After the opening TD, the two teams traded three-and-outs and punts until Northwestern managed put a field goal drive together late in the first quarter. He is only the ninth player in FBS history to rush for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons.

Kentucky roared back on the first drive of the second half. But you get to postseason play with a quarterback that's a little banged up who fought that hard ...

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"I think that will be something that we'll be fighting for in the offseason, to find a way to get 10 more points to get to Indianapolis [for the conference title game]", Fitzgerald said. Northwestern turned the interception into points when Jackson scored from 2 yards out, growing Northwestern's lead to 10.

Jackson moved into 10th on the NCAA's all-time rushing list with a school-record 5,440 yards.

Considering he ranks second all-time at Northwestern in yards passing, completions and total offense, the Wildcats obviously need a healthy Thorson. He finished his career with 27 100-yard games.

It would be Kentucky (7-6) that kicked off the scoring, as Benny Snell's 3-yard run with 12:42 remaining in the first quarter gave Mark Stoops' team a 7-0 lead.

Kentucky's defense proved especially vulnerable against the run as the regular season wore on, which could lead to trouble in the postseason.

Kentucky played in its second straight bowl game and 5th Music City Bowl against #21 Northwestern in Nashville. Unfortunately, because of an injury he sustained against Kentucky, Thorson's offseason schedule - and therefore, his 2018 season - looks much murkier. Northwestern failed to convert on fourth down and Kentucky took over. Larkin's pass found the quarterback on the far left side of the field, and after making the catch and being tackled around the five yard line, he reacted instantaneously by grabbing his right knee.

Thorson finished the game with 35 yards on 4-for-8 passing, -6 rushing yards on two carries, and the fateful 24-yard reception. Stephen Johnson returned in the second half and dropped a dime to the senior wide receiver Ross.

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