Northwestern to face Kentucky in Music City Bowl
After a 9-3 season during which the Northwestern University football team finished in second place in the Big 10 West, the Wildcats are headed to the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, where they will face off against the University of Kentucky on Dec. 29.
Northwestern finished the year ranked No. 21 in the nation and recorded several high-profile wins over teams such as the University of Iowa, Michigan State University and the University of Nebraska. In addition, eight players received All-Big 10 honors. In conference play Northwestern went 7-2, the third-most conference wins in school history.
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald said in a Northwestern press release that he is excited for the chance to take part in a bowl game and expects the team to perform well in its final game of the season.
"We're thrilled for the opportunity to play one more game together, and experience everything that Nashville has to offer," Fitzgerald said. "The bowl experience is an incredible reward for our young men, and an unparalleled gathering place for the Wildcats community.”
This is the eighth time in 10 years that Northwestern has been selected for a bowl game, and the team will be coming into the game in good form. NU closed out its season with seven-straight wins.
Jim Phillips, Northwestern vice president for athletics and recreation, said the school is honored to play in the bowl.
“Our student-athletes have made us proud all year in the classroom, in the community, and in competition, and we're excited to bring one of the hottest teams in college football to the 20th Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl," Phillips said.
During the regular season, running back Justin Jackson was one of the key players in the team's offense. Jackson is the record-holder for rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and all-purpose yards at Northwestern. He is only the second player in Big 10 history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season.
In 2016, the Northwestern participated in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which was held at Yankee Stadium in New York City; the team claimed a 34-20 win over Mississippi State.
Kentucky is coming into the game with an overall record of 7-5 and tied for second place in the SEC East. This will be Kentucky’s second-straight year in a bowl game. The team will be led on offense by sophomore running back Benny Snell Jr., who was ranked second in the SEC in with 1,318 yards rushing.
The only other time the two schools have faced off was in 1928. Northwestern won that matchup 7-0.
In addition, eight Northwestern Wildcats recently received All-Big 10 honors. Senior safety Godwin Igwebuike was a consensus all-conference second-team selection. He was joined by redshirt freshman Paddy Fisher, who was named the conference rookie of the year by the Big 10 Network. Other players that received post-season honors include defensive end Joe Gaziano, Kyle Queiro, Tyler Lancaster, Nate Hall, Samdup Miller and Charlie Kuhbander.
The Music City Bowl will kick off at 3:30 p.m., and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN.