Utah is looking for its 15th win in its last 16 bowl games dating to the 1999 Las Vegas Bowl. The Utes are 11-1 in bowl games under coach Kyle Whittingham. Whittingham played in the first four Holiday Bowls, for BYU. Northwestern is looking for school-best three-game bowl winning streak.
Northwestern’s defense against a Utah offense that will be missing junior running back Zack Moss, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Nov. 7, and sophomore receiver Britain Covey, who suffered a knee injury in the Pac-12 championship game. Additionally, junior quarterback Tyler Huntley will be a game-time decision after missing the last four games with a broken collarbone.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Northwestern: Senior Clayton Thorson, already the program’s all-time winningest quarterback at 35-17, needs 91 yards passing to break Brett Basanez’s school record of 10,580.
Utah: Senior kicker Matt Gay was the 2017 Lou Groza Award winner and punter Mitch Wishnowsky is the only three-time Ray Guy Award finalist in NCAA history. Wishnowsky won the Ray Guy Award in 2016.
FACTS & FIGURES
The teams are in the Holiday Bowl for the first time. … The Utes won the Pac-12 South before losing to Washington in the conference title game, 10-3. … Northwestern won the Big Ten West before losing to Ohio State in the conference championship game, 45-24. … The teams haven’t met since Utah won 42-0 on Sept. 26, 1981. … Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who is 95-70 in 13 seasons, declined to comment on reports that the Green Bay Packers are interested in interviewing him for their head coaching job.
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