Jan. 1, 2013
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2013 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
No. 21/17/20 Northwestern 34, Mississippi State 20
EverBank Field Jacksonville, Fla.
Northwestern Postgame Notes
Northwestern made its 11th all-time bowl game appearance -- including five straight since 2008 -- and its first in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. Today's victory marks the first postseason win for the Wildcats since NU defeated California in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1949.
With the win, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald established himself as the winningest head coach in school history. Fitzgerald won his 50th career game against Mississippi State and now owns a record of 50-39 in his seven seasons at the helm of his alma mater.
Northwestern posted a final 2012 record of 10-3, becoming the second Northwestern team in the modern era to win 10 games in a year (1995 was the other).
The outgoing senior class completed their careers with 40 career victories, the most by a five-year recruiting class in school history. The 2012 seniors participated in postseason bowl competition each of their five years on campus, also a first in NU history.
Northwestern rushed for 161 yards Tuesday against the Bulldogs, bringing their season total as a team to 2,938. The Northwestern single-season record for rushing yards is 3,062 set in 2000.
By knocking off Mississippi State, the 2012 Wildcats became the first Big Ten team in the BCS era (since 1998) and only the ninth overall to defeat two Southeastern Conference (SEC) opponents in the same season. Northwestern also beat Vanderbilt, 23-13, on Sept. 8. Seven of the previous eight teams to turn the trick are members of the ACC.
Northwestern entered the game with a Big Ten-best turnover margin of (+13) for the year and recorded four takeaways on the day. It was the second straight game in which the Wildcats intercepted at least three passes after also doing so in the regular-season finale vs. Illinois.
The four interceptions tied a Northwestern bowl game record set in the 1949 Rose Bowl victory over California.
Northwestern finished 10-of-19 on third-down opportunities in the game (52.6 percent).
The Wildcats scored in double-figures for the 73rd consecutive game while holding their opponent to 20 or fewer points for the eighth time in 13 games this season.
Senior S Jared Carpenter was named Gator Bowl MVP after making a game-high 10 tackles.
RB Venric Mark racked up 118 all-purpose yards to finish with 2,166 for the season, just 29 shy of Damien Anderson's single-season school record of 2,195 set in 2000.
Senior DL Quentin Williams scored Northwestern's first touchdown of the day on the third play from scrimmage, intercepting Tyler Russell and returning it 29 yards for score. It was Williams' third career interception -- his first since 2010 -- and his first touchdown as a Wildcat.
CB Nick VanHoose recorded his third INT of his redshirt freshman season -- tied with David Nwabuisi for most on the team -- while Ibraheim Campbell and Chi Chi Ariguzo each had their second picks of the year on Tuesday.
PK Jeff Budzien booted field goals of 34 and 37 yards in the first half and finishes his season having converted 19-of-20 field goal attempts on the year, with his lone miss coming from 53 yards. His 95 percent conversion rate is a single-season school record, while his 19 makes are one shy of the single-season mark of 20 held by Brian Gowins (1997) and Amado Villarreal (2008).
With nine points on the day, Budzien passed former NU kickers Sam Valenzisi (1992-95), Stefan Demos (2007-10) and Bob Christian (1987-90) on the school's career points total. Budzien now stands at 176 career points, good for eighth all-time at NU. He also upped his season total to 107 points, sixth-best in school history for a single season.
Junior DL Tyler Scott recorded his team-best eighth and ninth sacks of the year and now has 10 in his career, tying him for ninth all-time at Northwestern.
* Senior OL Brian Mulroe made his 40th career start in his final college outing, most among active Wildcats.