2018 Holiday
Bowl Page


Played December 31, 2018

SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA
Attendance: 47,007

Northwestern's 2018 regular season record: 8-4 overall, 8-1 regular season conference.  B1G West Champion; tied for first place, Big Ten.

Coach: Pat Fitzgerald

Captains: Clayton Thorson, Tommy Doles, Montre Hartage, Paddy Fisher

Opponent: Utah

NU/Utah series record (prior to bowl): series was tied, 1-1

  1 2 3 4 F
NU 0 3 28
Utah 14 6 0 0 20


Utah: Shelley 27-yard pass to Dixon (Gay kick) , Q1 05:48
NU 0, Utah 7
Utah: Shelley 4-yard pass to Jackson (Gay kick), Q1 01:40
NU 0, Utah 14
NU: C. Kuhbander 21-yard FG, Q2 08:42
NU 3, Utah 14
Utah: Gay 32-yard FG, Q2 03:57
NU 3, Utah 17
Utah: Gay 20-yard FG, Q2 00:05
NU 3, Utah 20
NU: C. Thorson 4-yard pass to R. Lees (Kuhbander kick), Q3 13:13
NU 10, Utah 20
NU: J. McGee 82-yard fumble recovery run (Kuhbander kick), Q3 06:40
NU 17, Utah 20
NU: Thorson 20-yard pass to T. Klock (Kuhbander kick), Q3 04:39
NU 24, Utah 20
NU: Lees 8-yard run (Kuhbander kick), Q3 01:40
NU 31, Utah 20

'Cats Capture Third Straight Bowl Win

Riley Lees soars to the goal.   [USA Today Image] 

The ‘Cats were again underdogs, facing #17 Utah in San Diego. NU looked the part in the first half, trailing the Utes 20 to 3 by the break. However, Northwestern returned from the locker room and delivered one of the most powerful single quarters of football in decades, stunning Utah 28 to 0 in the third. In the span of nine minutes, NU took advantage of three Utah turnovers and enjoyed a short TD pass, Jared McGee’s 82-yard fumble recovery touchdown run, an insane TD pass from Thorson to Trey Klock, and a touchdown run by Lees. The win by Northwestern, its third straight bowl victory, propelled the team back into the AP rankings at #21 and set the team up for a strong preseason in 2019.

Touchdown Klock.     [AP Image]

Northwestern Record Vs. Utah

The 'Cats had not played Utah since 1981. All-time, NU was 1-1 against the Utes before 2018, with each game having been played in Evanston:

  • 1927: NU 13, Utah 6-- Defending Big Ten champ Northwestern survived a scare by Utah to stay undefeated early in the '27 season. This game, like the 2018 edition, featured a long-distance scoop and score in the third quarter: NU quarterback Gustafson fumbled, and Utah returned its recovery 40 yards for the touchdown. The play wasn't enough to take the game.
  • 1981: Utah 42, NU 0-- Also known as "Loss #23" during The Streak, NU's Dark Age record of straight losses. NU was three games into the worst season in its history (statistically, at least). Utah scored three touchdowns in the second quarter to seal the game.