Northwestern makes history in a third-straight overtime victory
LINCOLN, Neb – Before the season, many thought that this Wildcats team could be one to make some history in the Big Ten Conference. Pat Fitzgerald had a number of returning players at key positions that some thought made Northwestern a potential dark horse for a West Division title.
Losses to Wisconsin and Penn State early in the Big Ten season ended those hopes, but the Wildcats still made some history anyway.
On Saturday Northwestern knocked off Nebraska in Lincoln 31-24 in overtime – winning for the third-consecutive week in the extra session. That’s not only a Big Ten record but one for the entire FBS, as the Wildcats became the first team to win three consecutive overtime games in history.
Clayton Thorson, who thew a pair of interceptions and a “Pick Six” early in the second half, tied the game in regulation with a touchdown run of seven yards then added another in overtime. Northwestern’s defense then stood tall, with a sack by Sam Miller and a break-up on fourth down by Kyle Queiro sealing the successful overtime hat trick for the Wildcats.
Not only did they make history, Northwestern became bowl eligible as they improved to 6-3 on the season. It’s the third-straight season that Northwestern has earned the necessary amount of victories for the postseason and the ninth time the team has won at least six games in a season in the Fitzgerald era.
Thorson’s two touchdowns proved to be the game winners, but Justin Jackson carried the load for the Wildcats with 154 yards rushing on 31 carries. He scored the opening touchdown of the game on a 17-yard run and started an afternoon of back-and-forth momentum for the teams. They traded scores in the first half, with the Wildcats leading 17-14 on a late Charlie Kuhbander field goal.
Marcus Newberry put Nebraska ahead when he picked off a Thorson pass for a 49-yard touchdown just 52 seconds into the third quarter. After the Cornhuskers pushed the lead to seven on a field goal, Northwestern’s defense changed the momentum when they ended a Nebraska drive inside their 20 when Godwin Igwebuike picked off Tanner Lee.
Thorson led the Wildcats 84 yards downfield and finished off the drive with a rushing touchdown on the 13th play. The quarterback would come up with a key QB sneak on fourth down in the first overtime to give the Wildcats the lead. The defense then took care of the rest, as the 2017 Northwestern Wildcats put themselves in the history books for all time thanks to overtime.