Rapid Reaction: Northwestern edges Kentucky in Music City Bowl
Friday’s Music City Bowl in Nashville had a lot of drama.
The Kentucky Wildcats fell to No. 21 Northwestern — the Big Ten’s version of Wildcats — in a 24-23 heartbreaker in Nashville.
Kentucky finished the season with a 7-6 overall record.
Here are a few story lines from Friday’s game:
Benny Snell, Jr.’s ridiculous ejection
This story pretty much dominated the first half. Snell was absurdly ejected after an official tried to help him up and he refused the assistance. Apparently when Snell pushed the official’s hands away, that gesture warranted an ejection. Or so thought the refs. Observers on Twitter certainly didn’t agree. You can see the play that caused the ejection here. Snell finished the game with just six carries for 15 yards. One of those carries did include a touchdown.
How tough is Stephen Johnson?
Kentucky’s quarterback injured his right shoulder after an egregious hit on the sideline from a Northwestern defender. Unlike the penalty on Snell, the late hit on Johnson was not called — which Kentucky fans had no problem pointing out. The senior QB heroically returned to start the second half despite being hurt. While Johnson probably wasn’t at 100 percent, he was able to finish his final college game. And not only did he finish, he led what could have been a game-tying touchdown drive in the fourth quarter before running in a score of his own. More on that final score later …
UPDATE: Stephen Johnson is cleared to return for the second half.
Also, we have the TOUGHEST DANG QB IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL.
That is all.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 29, 2017
Defense got gashed
What is up with Kentucky’s run defense? The ‘Cats gave up 334 rushing yards to Northwestern. The Big Ten’s Wildcats were able to control the clock for the most part, thus making it more difficult for Kentucky’s offense to ever find any rhythm. Before Nov. 18, Kentucky had not given up more than 300 rushing yards. Mississippi State put up 282, but for the most part, UK’s run defense was stout in every game. Since then? Kentucky gave up 381 rushing yards to Georgia, 346 rushing yards to Louisville and then Friday’s number.
That 2-point conversion
It’s bowl season, so why not? Props to Kentucky for having the guts to spurn overtime and try to win the game. It didn’t work, but it was exciting.