Northwestern holds off Kentucky to win Music City Bowl

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For a long time, it looked like Friday's Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl was going to be remembered for who didn't finish it than for how it actually finished. They were helped by a failed two-point conversion pass after Kentucky scored a touchdown in the final minute. NU's star linebacker Paddy Fisher got ejected for targeting with 22 seconds left in the first half. Early in the second quarter, that flow got disrupted.

Early in the first quarter Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson was injured after being tackled on a trick play. After Thorson was carted off the field, Matt Alviti would replace him. X-rays were negative, but as of the post-game press conference, an MRI had still not been done to determine the extent of the injury.

Safety Kyle Queiro provided the winning margin, taking Northwestern's second interception 26 yards for a touchdown with 7:49 left.

"Go for the win", Fitzgerald said of his decision. Northwestern running backs Justin Jackson and Larkin rushed for more than 100 yards each in picking up the slack.

The Wildcats battled and overcame a lot of adversity in the game, which is why I think the decision to go for two was much easier for Stoops to make.

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It wasn't just Northwestern's lineup that was shaken up in Nashville.

On Kentucky's ensuing possession, on what can only be described as a horrendous call, Benny Snell was ejected for making contact with an official.

Late in the busy - and pivotal - second quarter, Kentucky's Johnson went to the locker room with what appeared to be an injury to his right throwing arm.

Had the Wildcats won that game, they would have held the head-to-head tiebreaker after both teams finished 8-1 in the Big Ten.

Against Kentucky, it didn't seem to matter who handed the ball to Jackson - or even redshirt freshman running back Jeremy Larkin, Jackson's heir apparent.

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DEFENSE: A. The NU defense got a big break when star United Kingdom running back Benny Snell, Jr., got booted for making contact with an official in the second quarter. Bennett Skowronek was also ruled out after a rough hit. We ended the season on a good roll. "As talented and ridiculous as these seniors are, we're a young football team". "To see the way that he played today, now that Justin is retired as a Wildcat...the guys will be excited based on what they saw". "It's exciting for the future, to say the least". Jackson earned MVP honors with 157 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.

Four plays later, Johnson scrambled home from 9 yards out to cut NU's lead to 24-23 with 37 seconds to play.

Through the fourth quarter, it became either side's game.

To Kentucky's credit, the Wildcats would rebound and put together a drive that would be capped by an Austin MacGinnis 48-yard field goal to pull within seven. The next Kentucky drive led to a touchdown, but when they chose 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. "We had our hearts racing".

"I was on top of the play", Coyte told a pool reporter. "I think we deserved it". This is just the fifth 10-win season for Northwestern - three of those under the direction of head coach Pat Fitzgerald. The senior responded with 155 yards and two touchdowns.

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And in case you were wondering, Jackson said he is celebrating this win and his career the same way many NU fans are - at a bar in Nashville.