Northwestern Outlasts Kentucky In Music Bowl Thriller

VIDEO: Kentucky's Benny Snell ejected after contact with an official

"Wow. What a great job by our young men".

NU's 24-23 victory over Kentucky gave Northwestern its fifth 10-win season in school history - and third under coach Pat Fitzgerald.

A few minutes later, Kentucky star Benny Snell was ejected for what looked like the running back declining a hand up by an official. The most scrutinized move by Fitz will be his choice to go for it on 4th-and-1 from his own 39-yard line with 2:31 left and leading by seven. United Kingdom went for two and the win. "I know the way he competes and I know how tough he is and I know if there's any way he can play, he will play". Johnson ran for his second touchdown of the second half with 37 seconds left.

With his team trailing 24-23 with less than a minute to play, Mark Stoops made a decision to keep the offense on the field to attempt a two-point conversion, rather than taking the PAT to force overtime.

Finally, Johnson threw into the end zone, and cornerback Marcus McShepard broke up the pass.

Northwestern's appearance on Friday in the Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl is one that's hard to put into words. But, on the next play, Johnson had his pass picked off by Kyle Queiro and he took it back 26 yards for the touchdown.

Jackson scored his 40th and 41st career touchdowns and exits stage right having rushed for 5,395 yards, 10th in NCAA history and third among Big Ten backs, trailing Ron Dayne and Archie Griffin. NU would get a 64 yard run from Larkin down to the United Kingdom 11. Thorson already planned to return for his senior season too.

"I think that will be something that we'll be fighting for in the offseason, to find a way to get 10 more points to get to Indianapolis [for the conference title game]", Fitzgerald said.

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".

He finished the regular season tied at 30th nationally in rushing yards with Memphis' Darrell Henderson with 1,154 yards and nine TDs.

MacGinnis' school record 22nd field goal on the season made it 24-17. Both teams played most of the game without their most productive starters. The Wildcats lost Snell when he was ejected with 13:01 left in for contact with referee Chris Coyte.

The first quarter of play was characteristic for the 2017 Northwestern squad.

It appeared on replays that the official bent down to help up Snell, who used his hands to decline the help. At the end of the first quarter Kentucky led Northwestern 7-3.

You tell me if this warrants an ejection. Clayton Thorson caught a pass from his running back near the United Kingdom end zone before an awkward tackle and landing had him exit on a cart with a leg injury. The Wildcats got a 28 yard gain from running back Jeremy Larkin to get into United Kingdom territory.

Thorson's right knee buckled, and he grabbed it immediately.

Backup Drew Barker replaced him for UK's final series and hit Sihiem King for a short completion.

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?

Reflecting on the past four years, Jackson pointed to his senior class' mark on future Wildcats rather than his numbers in the box scores. Johnson's Kentucky career ended with him connecting on 19 of his 36 pass attempts for 257 yards and two interceptions with the two rushing scores.

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