Leading up to the game, Northwestern and Pitt arrived a week early and took in the sights of New York City. They visited a number of the sights: One World Trade Center, watched the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall and rang the bell at Wall Street.
In the pre-game press conference, both sides spoke lavishly about how much they liked and respected each other…and Joe Girardi was there, too. There must have been something about the New York air, because when the scoring came, it came it a New York minute.
After only a field goal in the first quarter, the offenses erupted in the second quarter. Northwestern took a 14-10 lead into the half which would stand for only a few minutes after returning from the break. From there, it would be a battle of reluctance, with each team playing down to their opponent.
With a total of six turnovers between them, and a number of near turnovers that were recovered by the offense, this game came down to minimizing mistakes.
Of course, the result would have been far different had it not been for Wildcats running back Justin Jackson and his turf-churning-record-setting performance. Jackson finished with 32 rushes for 224 yards. The Pinstripe Bowl record for rushing yards was 227 yards, which he briefly eclipsed before being dropped for losses on successive downs in the fourth quarter.
As the standout offensive player in this game, he accounted for three rushing touchdowns and left Pitt scrambling throughout to find an answer for his dynamism. Jackson was name MVP of the game and Pitt went home with their heads hung.
Northwestern, considered an underdog in this game, made enough plays on defense to account for the mistakes they made on offense. They improve their all-time bowl record to 3-10 and appear to be a program on the rise. After starting the season 1-3, the finished the regular season 6-6 and played their guts out in their finale.
Amid a storm of silver and purple confetti and Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” the Wildcats received their trophy, thanked their fans and made their way into the locker room to celebrate in private.
The final score: Northwestern: 31, Pitt: 24
Photo Credit: Twitter