ORLANDO, FL- For the NCAA programs this year, due to COVID-19, a peculiar process for the teams involved was prevalent, especially Auburn. In strange fashion, the day before the game the Tigers were still in Auburn.
Yet the Tigers head coach Bryan Harsin, had his team prepare for the Vrbo Citrus Bowl like it was any other road game.
Nonetheless both teams were ready to play as Northwestern got on the scoreboard early and often in the 1st quarter going up 14-0, before out-right beating Auburn 35-19.
Northwestern QB Peyton Ramsey played an efficient game connecting on 24 of his 35 passes for 291 yards and 3 TD’s.
In the 3rd quarter, Ramsey orchestrated a crucial 30-yard touchdown for the Wildcats saying, “The 30-yard run was a pressure look that we had seen a couple times earlier in the year [against] Iowa, the guy that tried to flush me out to the left a little bit and there was a spy sitting there waiting for me. But this time they didn’t spy me so I was able to get in the open field and get in the end zone and play with that safety a little bit. More than anything, I stepped out of the pocket, saw some green grass and took off running.”
The Wildcats defense again was on display against Auburn. Any time the Wildcats held their opponent to under 21 points this season, they were victorious. The Citrus Bowl was no different. Wildcats defensive coordinator Pat Fitzgerald on his team’s defense, “We’ve been really lights-out all year in the red zone, and we were again here today. Again I think our guys have really, really high level of understanding of what we are trying to do down there; the execution of what we are doing schematically.”
Given the score, Auburn remained competitive throughout the game stuffing the run for the first three quarters before allowing the Wildcats to take over in the 4th.
“I think we lost our edge after we went for it on fourth down there and missed it a by couple of inches, we didn’t go back out with the same edge that we had played with all day. I think that had something to do with it” said Fitzgerald.
What a difference a year makes. Last year’s bowl game, teams had time allotted to enjoy Orlando’s hospitality and its theme parks. Now, I believe everyone is thankful that they made it out of 2020 and into the new year.