Nashville, Tenn. (Dec. 29, 2017) – The “Battle of the Wildcats” came down to a few heart-stopping seconds as Northwestern defeated Kentucky in a nail-biter to win the 20th annual Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. by a final score of 24-23. After a late rally to pull within one point, Kentucky attempted an unsuccessful two-point conversion with :37 remaining, sealing the victory for Northwestern.
Making its first appearance in the Bowl, Northwestern was lifted by senior running back Justin Jackson’s 2-touchdown 157-yard performance. Along the way, Jackson moved into 10th place all time for Division 1 rushing with 5,440 career yards.
Jackson’s record-setting performance aside, it was a game of attrition. Northwestern starting quarterback Clayton Thorson injured his knee as a receiver on a trick play late in the first quarter, shortly before Kentucky star running back Benny Snell was ejected from the game for making contact with an official. Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher was also ejected for targeting late in the first half.
Kentucky, appearing in the bowl for the fifth time, trailed for much of the game but appeared poised to make a comeback led by senior quarterback Stephen Johnson. Johnson missed time in the second quarter after a hard tackle out-of-bounds, but returned to score two rushing touchdowns in the second half. Ultimately, the comeback fell just short with the failed two-point conversion.
“The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl did not disappoint this year with another exciting match-up between the SEC and Big Ten, welcoming Kentucky for the fifth time and Northwestern for the first,” said Scott Ramsey, President and CEO of Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. “We are grateful to our title sponsor, Franklin American Mortgage Company, for their support of the game, but also for the community outreach they provide related to the bowl.”
About the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl:
The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (501(c) (3) non-profit organization) is an annual post- season collegiate Bowl featuring the Atlantic Coast or Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences. Since its inception, the Bowl has produced over $290 million in direct economic impact. Distributed nationally to millions of viewers and listeners on ESPN and ESPN Radio, the Bowl is Nashville’s Holiday Tradition. For more information, call the Bowl office at 615.743.3130 or visit the Bowl online at MusicCityBowl.com.