The Bowl Page


'Cats' Bowl Chances Hang by Thread;
B1G Debuts New Bowl Lineup

The 'Cats will attempt to return to the postseason in '14.  When they do, it will be with a new bowl lineup.

The Big Ten unveiled last summer its new bowl arrangements, including 11 different bowl games that will rotate to fill nine spots per year.  Nine landing places for the conference is a record for the B1G.

More importantly, the selection process has changed.  Rather than each bowl having a spot in a one-by-one pecking order, the bowls are tiered, and each bowl within a tier will work together and with the Big Ten Conference to determine which eligible team is the best "fit" within the tier.  The criteria are a labyrinth of financial and media-driven rules.  However, they are influenced by how many times a team has recently played in the bowl in question.

Because of the new system, has stopped predicting NU's chances for each individual bowl.  Instead, we now forecast in which tier NU will land (see below).

Current Bowl Projections:
1-2 'Cats Are Still a Longshot

The Wildcats have an uphill battle. After a 1-7 B1G campaign in 2013, the 'Cats endured a spring filled with media distractions, potential team-dividing issues, and a spate of underclassman injuries. The team lost its two most important offensive players (Venric Mark to a controversial transfer, Christian Jones to injury) and a key defensive lineman is also out for the year with an injury. An 0-2 start sent expectations into a spiral.

The win vs. Western Illinois was a necessary victory and kept the 'Cats' bowl hopes (barely) alive. However, NU actually has a lower bowl projection than two weeks ago. The team still looks woefully unprepared for conference play-- even in the currently terrible Big Ten. NU suffered several concerning injuries during the WIU game. And Penn State, through a complete miscarriage in the NCAA's corrupt and comical attempt at discipline, is now unexpectedly eligible for the postseason this year.  As a result, NU's chances of making a bowl are now projected at 18%, a drop of four percentage points vs. the previous projection.

In the 15 seasons that has given weekly bowl projections, 2014 could end up being the only year during which the team's overall bowl chances never made it to 50%. Here are the previous years' bowl likelihood high water marks:

  • 2000: 100% (bowl bound)
  • 2001: 89% (in October, before the Penn State game)
  • 2002: 53% (during Camp Kenosha)
  • 2003: 100% (bowl bound)
  • 2004: 61% (after Nov. win vs. Penn State)
  • 2005: 100% (bowl bound)
  • 2006: 52% (after 2006 spring practice)
  • 2007: 57% (after win vs. Nevada)
  • 2008: 100% (bowl bound)
  • 2009: 100% (bowl bound)
  • 2010: 100% (bowl bound)
  • 2011: 100% (bowl bound)
  • 2012: 100% (bowl bound)
  • 2013: 95% (before Ohio State)

This year's projection high came during Camp Kenosha-- at 45%.

The next-- and possibly final-- update to the projections will be after the Penn State game.

Schedule of Possible Bowls, 2014-15

(and Date)
(may change)
NU's Chances*
(as of Sep. 20)
Tier Two
Big Ten #2-4

Capital One (vs. SEC)
Jan. 1
ABC <1%
Holiday Bowl (vs. Pac-12)
Dec. 27
Outback Bowl (vs. SEC)
Jan. 1
Tier Three**
Big Ten #5-7

TaxSlayer (aka Gator) (vs. SEC)
Jan. 2
San Francisco Bowl (vs. Pac-12)
Dec. 30
Music City Bowl (vs. SEC)
Dec. 30
Pinstripe Bowl (vs. ACC)
Dec. 27
Tier Four**
Big Ten #8-9

Armed Forces (Army vs. American)
Jan. 2
ESPN 13%
Detroit Lions Bowl (vs. ACC)
Dec. 26
Heart of Dallas (vs. C-USA)
Dec. 26

*The likelihood of each bowl is a simple projection by  The likelihood numbers are additive.  So, if for instance the chance for a tier three bowl is given as 10%, that should NOT be read as saying that NU has only a 10% chance of making any bowl at that level or higher.  To calculate that likelihood, simply add all the chances above tier three to it.  The sum of all the listed chances equals the projected likelihood that NU will make any bowl game in 2014.  During the season, this list will change after each game.
 ** There are more bowl games in these tiers than there are Big Ten team slots.  It is likely that a Big Ten team will not be chosen for both the Music City and Gator Bowls in a given year.  This is also the case with the Heart of Dallas Bowl and the Armed Forces Bowl. Of these last two bowls, a B1G team will likely be chosen for the Dallas Bowl in 2014.


Northwestern Bowl History

Select a link to view details about NU's 11 bowl appearances, bowl records, and other special games.