Northwestern football awaits bowl invite after 9-3 year
The Northwestern University (NU) football regular season has wrapped up, and the Wildcats finished with a 9-3 record and a 7-2 record in conference play.
The Wildcats finished second in the Big 10 West behind the University of Wisconsin, which had a 9-0 conference record. This year was a big improvement for the team, which finished 7-6 overall record last season.
Northwestern opened the season Sept. 2 against the University of Nevada and claimed a 31-20 win. Wildcats' quarterback Clayton Thorson led the NU offense, throwing for 352 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for two touchdowns as well. Running back Justin Jackson also turned in a solid performance, rushing for 109 yards in the win.
Next up for Northwestern was a road game against Duke University. The Wildcats didn't start the season with back-to-back wins, falling to the Blue Devils by a score of 41-17. The Blue Devils outscored Northwestern in every quarter and held the Wildcats scoreless in the third quarter. Thorson managed to throw for 120 yards but threw two interceptions.
Following the loss against Duke, Northwestern bounced back with a 49-7 blowout win over Bowling Green State University. The Wildcats jumped out early, putting 35 points on the board in the first half. Northwestern’s defense frustrated Bowling Green, holding the Falcons scoreless in the second, third and fourth quarters. Thorson had a big game, throwing for 370 yards and two touchdowns and completing 23 out of 30 attempted passes.
After the win over Bowling Green, the Wildcats dropped back-to-back games against nationally ranked University of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania State University. First, the Badgers knocked off the ‘Cats 33-24, and Penn State blew Northwestern out 31-7. After the two straight losses, the Wildcats embarked on a seven-game winning streak.
In a game against the University of Maryland, the Wildcats claimed a 37-21 victory. Once again, Northwestern received strong offensive performances from Thorson and Jackson. Thorson threw for 293 yards and one touchdown, while Jackson ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
After the win over Maryland, the ‘Cats played a string of close games, with three straight games going into overtime. The first game was a 17-10 overtime victory against the University of Iowa. The Wildcats' offense struggled throughout much of the game. Jackson recorded 93 rushing yards but couldn’t find the end zone, and Thorson threw for 192 yards and no touchdowns.
The next game tested the nerves of Northwestern when the Wildcats took on Michigan State University, which was ranked No. 16 in the nation at the time. The game had three overtime periods, and eventually, the Wildcats claimed a 39-31 victory. Thorson had a big game, throwing for 356 yards and two touchdowns. Flynn Nagel and Cameron Green were the top two targets for Thorson in the game, with 87 and 76 yards, respectively.
In the Wildcats' third-straight game that went to overtime, Northwestern knocked off the University of Nebraska 31-24. In the game, Jackson rushed for 154 yards and one touchdown, and Thorson passed for 243 yards.
Northwestern continued its win streak with three wins to close out the season, knocking off Purdue University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois. The Wildcats defeated the Boilermakers 23-13, then shutout the Golden Gophers of Minnesota 39-0 and closed out the year with a 42-7 victory over the University of Illinois.
The Wildcats now wait to find out which bowl game they will play in. Bowl game matchups will be announced after the conclusion of conference championship games. The ‘Cats could play in the Citrus Bowl, the Holiday Bowl, the Outback Bowl or one of several other bowl games that will take place between Christmas and New Year’s Day.