Northwestern looks for big win vs. Kentucky at Music City
No. 20 Northwestern (9-3) vs. Kentucky (7-5), Friday, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN).
Line: Northwestern by 7 1/2
Series Record: Northwestern leads 1-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Northwestern can win back-to-back bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history. The Wildcats can also notch a 27th win for their senior class and finish with 10 wins for the third time in six seasons.
Kentucky can win an eighth game in a season for the first time since 2007. A win also would give the Wildcats a winning bowl record as a program.
Benny Snell Jr. and Northwestern defense. The Kentucky sophomore ranked second in the Southeastern Conference with 1,318 yards rushing and led the SEC with 18 rushing touchdowns. Northwestern ranks 10th nationally allowing 111.3 yards rushing per game, and the Wildcats have smothered opponents allowing an average of 96 yards rushing over their last 10 games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Northwestern: RB Justin Jackson. The senior ran for 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns, and he holds school records for rushing yards, touchdowns and all-purpose yards.
Kentucky: QB Stephen Johnson. The senior has taken very good care of the ball with only four interceptions all season. Johnson has thrown for 2,048 yards and 10 touchdowns.
FACTS & FIGURES
Northwestern is playing its 14th bowl all-time but eighth in the last 10 seasons. … Kentucky is playing in its second straight bowl and 17th bowl all-time. Kentucky is 8-8 in bowls. … Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has been a part of 12 of the program’s bowl games as a player, assistant or head coach. … Northwestern has won two of its last three bowl games, including a 31-24 upset of then-No. 23 Pittsburgh in the Pinstripe Bowl last year. … Northwestern has won seven straight games. … Northwestern has won nine games for the ninth time in program history and third under Fitzgerald. … Northwestern won seven Big Ten games for third time in program history. … Jackson is sixth in FBS history to top 1,000 yards rushing in four consecutive seasons. Jackson is nation’s second-active leading rusher with 5,283 career yards. … Clayton Thorson is winningest quarterback in Northwestern history at 26-12. … Northwestern one of 11 FBS teams with five or more players with at least 25 catches. … Northwestern LB Nate Hall led Big Ten and ranked 13th nationally with 16 + tackles for loss. … Kentucky is 1-1 against Big Ten in bowl games. … Kentucky has lost two straight. … Kentucky first team to play Music City Bowl five times. Kentucky lost its last trip to this bowl in 2009 to Clemson. … Win would make Kentucky 5-2 in bowl games against ranked opponents. … Kentucky looking for its eighth win for first time since 2007 season when Wildcats went 8-5. … Kentucky is 41-199-5 all-time against ranked opponents and 0-2 this season. … Kentucky has been intercepted only five times this season, tied for single-season school record for fewest interceptions.
More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.