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Northwestern defeats Pittsburgh 31-24 in Pinstripe Bowl

NEW YORK — Northwestern won a bowl game Wednesday.

The score was 31-24, the opponent was Pittsburgh and the bowl was the Pinstripe — and the venue was way-cool Yankee Stadium — but those details are almost beside the point.

Northwestern won a bowl game. That’s the bottom line here.

It was only the third bowl victory in the history of the school, and only the second since the 1948 Rose Bowl. The other win was at the Gator Bowl to cap the 2012 season.

Northwestern's Justin Jackson dives in for a score during the Pinstripe Bowl against Pittsburgh at Yankee Stadium. (Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Coach Pat Fitzgerald’s bowl record improved to 2-5.

The Wildcats (7-6) were clutch all game, going 9-for-19 on third downs and 4-for-4 on fourth downs. They also held Pittsburgh — the best red-zone offense in the country in terms of touchdown percentage — to two touchdowns in seven trips inside the 20.

The victory was sealed when safety Kyle Queiro picked off Panthers quarterback Ben DiNucci with less than two minutes to play.

Justin Jackson rushed for a career-high 224 yards and three touchdowns. The junior is the second 4,000-yard rusher in Northwestern history, joining Damien Anderson.

Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com