DALLAS - Taylor Potts threw four touchdown passes and scored another on a trick play, and Eric Stephens ran 86 yards for a score to carry the Red Raiders (8-5) over the Wildcats (7-6) in the inaugural TicketCity Bowl.
The Red Raiders led by 22 points early in the second half, then had to sweat it out, thanks to a botched onside kick in the third quarter.
The Wildcats trailed by a touchdown twice in the fourth quarter, with freshmen quarterbacks Evan Watkins and Kain Colter combining to lead three consecutive touchdown drives and Jordan Maybin returning an interception 39 yards for a score with 5:37 left.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald challenged next season’s senior class in his postgame press conference. The Wildcats (7-6) lost their eighth straight bowl game, extending a drought that dates to 1949.
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“It’s time they step up,” he said. “If we want to win championships and we want to win these types of football games, that class has got to step up. They have to start making more plays. They have to start leading.”
Tommy Tuberville became the fifth coach to win a bowl game at three schools, having also done it at Auburn and Ole Miss.
The Wildcats surprised the Red Raiders with an in-game switch to an option offense. They ran for 229 yards, their most since 2008.