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Northwestern claws past Auburn in Citrus Bowl victory

The No. 14-ranked Wildcats wrapped up the season with a dominating win over the Tigers on Friday afternoon.

Northwestern Wildcats offensive lineman Ethan Wiederkehr blocks Auburn Tigers defensive tackle Jeremiah Wright as Wildcats quarterback Peyton Ramsey throws a pass during the first quarter at Camping World Stadium. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

In a battle of the cats on New Year’s Day, the No. 14-ranked Northwestern Wildcats defeated the Auburn Tigers 35-19 in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl. The Wildcats jumped out to an early 14-0 first quarter lead, thanks to two passing touchdowns from quarterback Peyton Ramsey.

Ramsey’s first touchdown pass happened on the opening drive of the game, where he found wide receiver Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman for 35 yards. Later in the first quarter, Northwestern put together another long scoring drive, which ended with Ramsey hitting wide receiver John Raine for a six-yard score.

The senior quarterback, who had a tumultuous Big Ten title game, rebounded on Friday afternoon with 291 passing yards and three touchdowns. He also added 50 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The Tigers eventually made it a game in the second quarter, getting two field goals from kicker Andres Carlson, cutting Northwestern’s lead to 14-6 at halftime. In the third quarter, Auburn cut into the Wildcats’ deficit further as quarterback Bo Nix found wide receiver Elijah Canion down the sideline for a 57-yard touchdown reception. Nix was 25-of-42 for 292 yards, a touchdown, and led the Tigers in rushing yards with 32.

The Tigers did not have an answer for the Wildcats’ offense as Ramsey escaped the pocket for a 30-yard rushing touchdown, increasing Northwestern’s lead to 21-13.

In the fourth quarter Northwestern tacked on two more touchdowns to seal the win; one score from running back Cam Porter, who had 98 yards on 33 carries, and the other from Ramsey, who found Riley Lees for an eight-yard score.