Rapid Reaction: Northwestern falls apart in second half of Outback Bowl

Bobby Pillote, Gameday Editor


TAMPA, Fla. — Whatever hope Northwestern had for a comeback all too quickly wilted in the second half, with the Wildcats falling 45-6 to the Tennessee Volunteers in the Outback Bowl.

After trailing by 11 at the break, NU failed to put together anything positive in the third and fourth quarters and was held entirely off the scoreboard. As has become customary in NU’s blowout losses, senior quarterback Zack Oliver came in for mop-up duty at the end of the game.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson finished the contest completing just eight of his 20 passes for 57 yards, throwing two interceptions along the way. The only thing positive for the Cats’ offense was Justin Jackson, with the sophomore running back carrying 14 times for 74 yards and NU’s lone score. The game was simply out of hand too quickly for Jackson to make much of an impact.

The defense buckled under the pressure caused by Tennessee’s consistently good field position. Volunteers running back Jalen Hurd pounded his way to 130 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, and quarterback Josh Dobbs was efficient enough with his arm and legs to always keep his offense moving.

The Cats mustered three sacks, but there really wasn’t any other bright spot. NU was outgained by over 150 yards, and committed four turnovers without forcing any.

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