2008 Alamo
Bowl Page


Played December 29, 2008.

Alamodome, San Antonio, TX. 
Attendance: 55,986.

Northwestern's 2008 regular season record:
9-3 overall, 5-3 conference (4th place).

Coach: Pat Fitzgerald.
Co-captains: C.J. Bacher, Prince Kwateng, Eric Peterman, Brendan Smith.

Opponent: Missouri. 

NU/Missouri series record (prior to bowl): tied, 4-4.

Team 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q OT Final
Missouri 0 10 10 3 7 30
Northwestern 7 3 13 0 0 23


First quarter

NU: TD pass from CJ Bacher to Eric Peterman, 35 yards (Villarreal kick)

Second quarter
Mizzou: FG, Jeff Wolfert, 31 yards
NU: FG, Villarreal, 21 yards
Mizzou: TD, Jeremy Maclin punt return, 75 yards (Wolfert kick)

Third quarter
NU: TD pass from Bacher to Rasheed Ward, 46 yards (Villareal kick failed)
Mizzou: TD pass from Chase Daniel to Dana Alexander (Wolfert kick)
Mizzou: FG, Wolfert, 43 yards
NU: TD pass from Bacher to Ross Lane, 23 yards (Villarreal kick)

Fourth quarter
Mizzou: FG, Wolfert, 37 yards

Mizzou: TD pass from Daniel to Maclin, 7 yards (Wolfert kick)

CJ Bacher's three TDs were a new Alamo Bowl record.

AP Photos.

On a night draped with gritty performances, wild plays, a flicker of Highest Hopes and moments of outright anguish, Northwestern gave the Missouri Tigers all they could handle before falling in overtime in the 2008 Alamo Bowl.  The Wildcats turned in outstanding performances on both offense and defense, and they were boosted by astonishing coaching jobs by both Coach Fitzgerald and by Defensive Coordinator Mike Hankwitz, who had prepared the team beyond the expectations of most fans. 

However, the thrilling game that the 'Cats delivered was marred late in the fourth quarter when Wildcat MVP Corey Wootton, shaking off an uncalled hold, raced toward Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel and came down awkwardly on his right leg, collapsing to the turf.  As of Tuesday morning, the extent of Wootton's injury was not known.  Wootton had been integral in NU's efforts to stop Daniel throughout the game, having intercepted Daniel in the first half and also notched the 'Cats' lone sack.

Joining Wootton in the pick club were Brad Phillips and Brian Peters, who each caught an interception.  Daniel, in addition to the three interceptions, was limited to two touchdowns and 200 yards.  His family, however, were the stars in San Antonio on Monday night: ESPN decided to focus on his parents and family in the stands for much of its coverage, rather than focusing on the ho-hum action on the field as it led to a wild, roiling finish in overtime. 

Despite CJ Bacher's family not getting so much as a mention during the Daniel Family Showcase, the Wildcat quarterback caught fire, throwing just one interception amidst three touchdowns (to the Wildcat Touchdown Trinity of Peterman, Ward, and Lane) and 304 yards.  Bacher's three TDs tie NU's bowl record for individual scoring (shared with Darnell Autry in the 1996 Rose Bowl) and they break NU's bowl record for TD passes (previously held by Brett Basanez in the 2005 Sun Bowl and Steve Schnur in the 1997 Citrus Bowl, who had each thrown two touchdowns).  The 46-yard TD strike to Ward also set a Wildcat bowl record for the longest touchdown pass.  Bacher was a leader on the field in San Antonio, and he nearly led his team to glory.

Northwestern had its hands around that glory for nearly the entire evening.  The team began with a sterling defensive effort, snuffing Missouri's opening drive with an interception near midfield.  This set up the Wildcat offense and the return of starting runningback Tyrell Sutton.  On the first snap, Sutton took the ball with his free right hand, cradling his hand with the cast that still envelops his recovering left wrist, and took off for seven yards.  Sutton would finish the game with 116 yards, more than double any other rusher in the game. 

The Peterman touchdown strike finished off NU's opening drive, and the 'Cats would keep a lead until one minute to go in the first half.  Content with a 10-10 tie, the 'Cats-- on their own 23 yard line and with all of their time outs-- burned out the clock.

NU would regain the lead on the very first drive in the second half, as Lane, Peterman and Ward all caught big passes to take the 'Cats across the field and to a 16-10 lead.  Unfortunately, Daniel followed this with his most impressive drive of the night, slicing through the 'Cats on a 12-play campaign that put the Tigers up by one.  Later, Bacher's one interception and a field goal by Mizzou put the momentum squarely with the Tigers. 

However, Northwestern had come to win, and the team would not let this glory slip through its fingers without clawing the hell out of it first.  The Wildcat defense stepped up again, intercepting Daniel and putting the offense in position for the Ross Lane TD that gave NU its final lead of the game, 23 to 20.

NU's lead held until less than three minutes to go in the game.  A Tiger 37-yard field goal sent the Alamo Bowl into a tie, and a 44-yard attempt with just three seconds to go would have won it for Mizzou, but the Tigers' terrifyingly accurate kicker suffered a rare miss to send the game into overtime, which sent Wildcat fans into hysterics.  For NU, 60 years of bowl futility were possibly going to close with glory in an overtime game, and NU was 8-1 in overtime games coming into the Alamo Bowl.  The 'Cats' only previous overtime loss: in Texas, at TCU. 

And, indeed, The Wildcats again fell in overtime in the Lone Star State, as Chase Daniel orchestrated a touchdown drive in the first overtime set.  NU found itself, after a recovered fumble on third down, looking at a fourth down and goal from the 31-yard line.  The Hail Mary, hanging in space for a flicker of time, carried six decades of hopes, hopes higher than any sane fan would have dreamt in the summer of 2008, hopes that woke up during that flicker of time and then began their slumber anew, as the ball hit the Alamo turf.