Northwestern To Meet Utah In 2018 Holiday Bowl

by | Dec 2, 2018 | Headlines, RRSN News | 0 comments

Northwestern To Meet Utah In 2018 Holiday Bowl

 

EVANSTON, Ill. — The No. 22 Northwestern Wildcats will take on No. 17 Utah in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl on Monday, December 31. This year’s game will kick off at 6 p.m. CT on FS1.

“We are extremely excited to represent the Big Ten as the West Division Champions in the Holiday Bowl and experience all that the great city of San Diego has to offer,” said Dan & Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald. “The bowl experience is a great reward for our young men and creates an amazing opportunity for our Wildcats community to come together. We have an important time coming up to improve as a team, and are looking forward to battling a very talented Utah team in California later this month.”

The Wildcats enter their ninth bowl game in the last 11 seasons as the champions of the Big Ten West Division. The ‘Cats are 8-5 overall and finished 8-1 in Big Ten play, tying a program record for conference victories in a season.

“Postseason football has become an annual tradition for Northwestern, and we’re thrilled to be headed to the Holiday Bowl later this month,” said Combe Family Vice President for Athletics & Recreation Jim Phillips. “We’re grateful to Mark Neville and his entire team for this opportunity to bring our University family together, and compete against a fantastic opponent like Utah. This has been an unforgettable year for Northwestern football and we look forward to ending it by ringing in the New Year with thousands of Wildcats in San Diego.”

Northwestern is led by four-year starter and All-Big Ten quarterback Clayton Thorson, the program’s all-time leader in wins, passing touchdowns, attempts and completions. Thorson needs just 91 yards to break Brett Basanez’s program record of 10,580. He holds the Big Ten record for starts by a quarterback with 52 and is the only player in conference history to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 20 touchdowns.

Thorson was among 10 Wildcats named to the All-Big Ten Team earlier this week, including three others on offense and six on defense. Senior cornerback Montre Hartage and sophomore linebacker Paddy Fisher earned first-team honors as the anchors of a Wildcat defense that allowed just 17.1 points per game during conference play.

The Wildcats have won three of their last four bowl games, including back-to-back wins the last two seasons over No. 23 Pittsburgh in the 2016 NewEra Pinstripe Bowl, 31-24, and Kentucky in the 2017 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, 24-23. The Holiday Bowl will be the 15th postseason appearance in program history, of which Fitzgerald has played a role in 13 (two as a student-athlete, two as an assistant coach, nine as head coach).

Utah is 9-4 overall and represented the Pac-12 North in the conference championship game after posting a 6-3 conference record during the regular season. The Utes are making their fifth-straight bowl appearance and 22nd in program history. They are 17-4 all-time in bowl games. In his 14th season as the head coach, Kyle Whittingham boasts a defense that ranks 15th in the country yards allowed per game (315.1) and scoring defense (18.5).

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