ALAMO BOWL: Wildcats say they'll learn from this loss
The Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO - The Northwestern Wildcats' 51-year wait for a bowl victory will have to be prolonged for another season.
Crushed 66-17 by No. 9 Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl Saturday night, Northwestern will have to take solace in a season that saw the Wildcats post an 8-4 record and a Big Ten Conference co-championship.
"We say often to let's stay close and make it a 15-round fight," Northwestern Coach Randy Walker said. "It wasn't 15 rounds tonight. Nebraska did a good job getting ready for us. They played a good football game."
Northwestern's lone bowl victory came Jan. 1, 1949 in the Rose Bowl against California. The Wildcats fell to 1-3 all-time in bowl games.
Despite the loss to Nebraska, Northwestern remains optimistic for next season, as only nine players on the current roster of 86 are slated to depart Evanston, Ill.
Included in the returnees are All-America running back Damien Anderson and quarterback Zak Kustok.
Anderson finished his junior season ranked second in the nation in rushing. Against Nebraska, Anderson rushed for 149 yards on 18 carries, scored his school-record 23rd touchdown of the season and upped his rushing totals to 2,063 yards.
Kustok added to his Northwestern school record with his 19th touchdown pass of the season when he connected with Teddy Johnson on a 10-yard second quarter scoring pass.
"Neither the offense or defense played its best football," Kustok said. "We have to use this loss as fuel for our fire and use it to get motivated for next season."
Northwestern, which led the Big Ten with a scoring average of 38.5 points and 511.2 total yards per game, mustered a solid offensive attack against Nebraska with 383 total yards.
On defense, however, the Wildcats had no success in slowing the Cornhuskers, as Nebraska rolled up 636 total yards and scored the most points allowed by Northwestern this season.
Tested early, Nebraska broke the game open with a school-bowl record 31 second-quarter points.
"We learned a lot about ourselves from this loss," linebacker Billy Silva said. "We're going to remember this during the offseason. None of us will forget this."