|Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (formerly Texas Bowl)
Played December 31, 2011.
Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas. Attendance: 68,395.
Northwestern's 2011 regular season record: 6-6 overall, 3-5 conference. Fifth, Legends Div.
Coach: Pat Fitzgerald. Captains: Netter, Persa, Mabin, Peters.
Opponent: Texas A&M
NU/TAMU series record (prior to bowl):
first game played against Texas A&M.
|TAMU: Bullock, 24-yd field goal, Q1 05:46.
||NU 0, TAMU 3
|NU: Venric Marc, 2-yd run (Jeff Budzien kick), Q2 10:12
|NU 7, TAMU 3
|TAMU: Malena, 1-yd run (Bullock kick), Q2 7:58
|NU 7, TAMU 10
|TAMU: Tannehill-Fuller, 26 yd pass (Bullock kick), Q2 01:31
|NU 7, TAMU 17
|TAMU: Bullock, 40-yd field goal, Q2 00:00
|NU 7, TAMU 20
|TAMU: Malena, 19-yd run (Bullock kick), Q3 10:00
|NU 7, TAMU 27
|TAMU: Bullock, 47-yd field goal, Q3 05:59
|NU 7, TAMU 30
|NU: Kain Colter 1-yd run (Ebert-Fields pass), Q4 11:15
|NU 15, TAMU 30
|NU: Colter-Tim Riley, 2-yd pass (Budzien kick), Q4 05:22
|NU 22, TAMU 30
|TAMU: Bullock, 31-yd field goal, Q4 00:30
|NU 22, TAMU 33
And so the beat(down) goes on.
Northwestern, having secured a school-record fourth straight season
with a bowl game, lost its ninth straight bowl, falling to Texas
A&M 33 to 22 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. The loss
gives NU a tie with Notre Dame for consecutive bowl losses, adds one
more year to NU's now-legendary bowl drought, and-- similar to 2003--
flips the team's record to a losing one for the season.
The 'Cats looked unfocused early, letting the Aggies take an initial
lead (with what looked like a touchdown. However, A&M's
seeming TD catch in the first quarter was ruled out of bounds, and the
Aggies had to settle for a field goal). NU then managed to score,
but eventually fell further back when the Aggies quickly answered
with a touchdown and a field goal. NU, apparently willing to take
a ten-point deficit into halftime, played the final minutes of the
second quarter in conservative mode, only to blow clock management and
give the ball back to Texas A&M. The Aggies, not playing
particularly well at the time, could not pass up the gift, and added
three to their lead.
But the Aggies weren't finished pulling ahead. In the third
quarter the wheels on the Wildcat's wagon popped off, and Texas A&M
slid to a 30 to 7 lead, seemingly insurmountable.
NU, however, was following the pattern it has established in recent
bowls: come out flat, watch as the opponent takes a multiple-score
lead, then tear back to within striking distance. And the 'Cats
did just that, behind Dan Persa's final game as a Wildcat and behind
Kain Colter's determined performance.
Persa needed 19 passing attempts to take the NCAA career record for
passing completion percentage. With 37 attempts in the game,
Persa finished his time at NU with a completion percentage of 72.7
percent, shattering the previous NCAA record of 70.4%. During the
Texas Bowl, Persa passed for 213 yards, no touchdowns, and was hit with
a whopping seven sacks. Given the offensive line's subpar
performance, this could have been even worse.
NU, as usual, limited Colter's passing game (although he did come
up with NU's only passing touchdown), but he did rush for 65 yards and
The Wildcats' comeback attempt launched in the fourth quarter, when
Brian Peters caught an interception, the 12th for NU's outgoing
safety. The pick set up Colter's rushing touchdown, which NU
followed with a nice two-point play, with Jeremy Ebert passing to
Demetrius Fields for the score.
NU would put up another TD to come within eight, but that is where the
comeback would end: A&M strung out a drive that ended in a field
goal, giving them an 11-point lead and the game.
Texas Bowl Photos
Click here for a set of original photos from the Texas Bowl, courtesy of AlaskanWildcat.
Greenstein: NU Has Sold 10K Tix
29-- Per Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein's Twitter feed,
NU has sold approximately 10,000 of its allotted 12,000 tickets for the
Texas Bowl. Illinois, Greenstein notes, sold about 6,000 tickets
to the same bowl last year.
10,000 puts NU ahead of several B1G teams that are traveling to bowls
higher in the conference's pecking order. This is a big win for
the program, and it gives NU even more ammo for future bowls.
[Ed. note-- By kickoff, NU had sold ALL 12,000
of its allotted tickets. Of the ten B1G teams bowling in
2011-'12, only three sold out their allotted tickets: NU, Purdue (which
had just 5,000 to sell for a bowl within driving distance of campus),
and Wisconsin (which played in the Rose Bowl).]
NU Opens a Ten-Point 'Dog;
Initial Tix Sales Strong
Dec. 9-- Northwestern
will face Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on New Year's
Eve. The 'Cats are ten-point underdogs, despite the fact that both teams are 6-6 and will be playing for a winning season.
At the December 8 news conference in Houston (in which Coach Fitzgerald
participated), Texas Bowl director Heather "yes my last name is"
Houston announced, "We've had such a stellar response to this matchup.
Our ticket sales are nearing 60,000, which is way ahead of where we've
ever been for this bowl game at this time."