Best of 2017 Music City Bowl

01 January, 2018, 04:32 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Northwestern running back Justin Jackson carries the ball against Kentucky in the first half of the Music City Bowl NCAA college football game Friday Dec. 29 2017 in Nashville Tenn

"Doesn't surprise me because I've seen it", United Kingdom coach Mark Stoops said. "Wow. What a great job by our young men".

In a game that saw both teams lose key offensive weapons in the first half under far different circumstances, No. 21 Northwestern managed to hold off Kentucky by the final score of 24-23 to win the Music City Bowl in Nashville. The Wildcats notched their second 10-win season in three years and third in six under Fitzgerald. NU's star linebacker Paddy Fisher got ejected for targeting with 22 seconds left in the first half.

But these SEC Wildcats have a terrific running back in Benny Snell Jr., and a two-way threat in quarterback Stephen Johnson.

When Kentucky stuffed Northwestern quarterback Matt Alviti on fourth-and-1, it gave United Kingdom and Johnson one last chance 39 yards from the end zone and 2:31 remaining.

Fitzgerald said Alviti was ready to step up because he consistently gave his all to the team. But you get to postseason play with a quarterback that's a little banged up who fought that hard ... Mistakes happen, and watching the fight and effort the Cats displayed in the Music City Bowl should make fans feel pride instead of disappointment.

United Kingdom went long on the kick and Northwestern recovered to win 24-23.

Kentucky twice came back from 10 points down to get within a point, 24-23, with 37 seconds to play, but Stephen Johnson's pass on the two-point conversion didn't get to Tavin Richardson.

With his team trailing 24-23 with less than a minute to play, Mark Stoops chose to keep the offense on the field to attempt a two-point conversion, rather than taking the PAT to force overtime. Richardson caught five passes for 89 yards. That cost Kentucky a chance at its best season since 2007 and a second straight bowl loss. "Like everyone says, we're never going to have this brotherhood ever again". But, on the next play, Johnson had his pass picked off by Kyle Queiro and he took it back 26 yards for the touchdown.

In addition Northwestern has to replace Jackson.

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Jackson moved into 10th on the NCAA's all-time rushing list with a school-record 5,440 yards. Larkin totaled 112 yards on nine carries, including a 64-yard scamper to Kentucky's 11-yard line. Thorson already planned to return for his senior season too.

After the Wildcats sprung the upset at Yankee Stadium, Fitzgerald said: "I'd like to give an extra special shout-out to Danny Kanell and the ESPN crew".

Kentucky, meanwhile, is looking to bounce back and end the season on a high note in Nashville after stumbling down the stretch. After the game, Referee Chris Coyte explained his reasoning for ejecting Snell.

It appeared on replays that the official bent down to help up Snell, who used his hands to decline the help. Kentucky trailed 10-7 at the time.

You tell me if this warrants an ejection. "And the player got up and grabbed my arms and pushed them away and contacted me".

Early in the first quarter Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson was injured after being tackled on a trick play.

Thorson caught a 24-yard pass from backup running back Jeremy Larkin and was tackled by linebacker Jordan Jones near the left sideline. He was carted off the field and replaced by senior Matt Alviti.

Are the Northwestern Wildcats a good bet to cover the point spread this afternoon when they take on the Kentucky Wildcats at 4:30 p.m. ET in the Music City Bowl?

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