The Bowl Page


Sixth Straigh Win
Upgrades NU's Bowl Resume

Palm Projects Citrus!

Updated Nov. 19

  • CFN: Holiday vs. Wash.. Last week: TaxSlayer vs. Oregon [!].
  • CBS (Palm): Citrus vs. Miss. St.. Last week: Holiday vs. 'Zona.
  • ESPN (Bonagura): Outback vs. LSU. Last week: Music City vs. Kentucky.
  • ESPN (Hale): Holiday vs. Wash. Last week: TaxSlayer vs. Missouri.
  • SB-Nation (Kirk): Music City vs. KY. Last week: Foster Farms vs. Wash. St.

The Bowls in the Running

Here are the possible bowls for NU at this point. HTP's projections, as always, are at the bottom of the page.

CITRUS: Unlikely, and more so after last week (no big upsets in the East). NU would need three B1G teams in the NY6 to even have a shot. Of the three B1G teams in the NY6, none of them could be in the Orange Bowl, since an Orange Bowl slot would knock the B1G out of the Citrus. Again, pretty unlikely.

OUTBACK: Even with NU's upgrade, this bowl remains extremely unlikely. NU has played in the outback twice this decade, including the 2016 game. The bowl will likely want to take anyone but the 'Cats, to maintain variety.

HOLIDAY: NU's chances for this bowl increased dramatically this week. Last week, I wrote: "A source has provided this comment from a Holiday Bowl staffer: 'We are hoping for Michigan vs. Arizona. Obviously a lot of moving parts, but that is what we are projecting.'  If this is the case, for NU to have a shot the 'Cats need to win out (quite possible), and Michigan needs to gag badly on its last two games (less likely, still possible)." Well, since last week NU is halfway to winning out, and got there by torching Minnesota. Michigan lost to Wisconsin, and the game wasn't as close as the score. Don't count the Holiday out!

TAXSLAYER / MUSIC CITY: The 'Cats have been to the Gator recently, and possible matchups don't seem that great. Nashville, however, might like to have NU. The 'Cats have never been to Music City, and the attendance could be good. After NU's win vs. Minnesota, Music City has taken the favorite spot from Foster Farms.

FOSTER FARMS: Was the favorite until this week. NU has never been to this bowl, the bowl reps know that NU alumni are heavy on the West Coast and would travel very well to the venue. There are also several great possible matchups with the Pac-12. However, NU is now likely to be picked by a higher bowl. If Purdue beats Indiana next Saturday, NU will almost certainly go to the Holiday or Music City, and Purdue would possibly head to Foster Farms.

Alumni Bowl Page Is Posted

As it has done every year that NU becomes bowl eligible, the NU Alumni Association has posted its bowl tour page. In years past, the page gave some clues as to which bowl game NU might be invited; however, this year the entry page is a little more minimalist.

Northwestern, fresh off of a great win in New York at the Pinstripe Bowl, returned much of its talent from 2016 and is returning to a bowl this year. The team could now achieve a second straight postseason win, which would be a first for NU.

This year's postseason slate is similar to the one introduced in 2014, when the Big Ten bowl tiers were installed. As noted elsewhere, after initially stating that there would be a formal tier system, the Big Ten backed off of the idea, and the tiers are more of a guide. Nevertheless, there are significant differences in quality between tiers, and very little difference within a given tier.
Because of this structure, stopped predicting NU's chances for each individual bowl.  Instead, we  forecast in which tier NU will land (see below).

HTP NU Bowl Projections

For the last six weeks, we've projected the most likely bowl as Foster Farms. That changes this week. HTP projects the Music City Bowl. Holiday is a very close second.

The next update to the projections will be after the LOL game.

Schedule of Possible Bowls, 2017-18

(may change)
NU's Chances1
(as of 11/19/17)

Tier Two
Big Ten #2-4

Citrus Bowl (vs. SEC)
Jan. 1
[If Orange Bowl does not select B1G]
ABC 35%
Outback Bowl (vs. SEC)
Jan. 1
[Unlikely to select NU in 2017]
Holiday Bowl (vs. Pac-12)
Dec. 28

Tier Three2
Big Ten #5-7

Music City Bowl (vs. SEC)
Dec. 29

ESPN 65%
TaxSlayer (aka Gator) (vs. SEC)
Dec. 30

Pinstripe Bowl (vs. ACC)
Dec. 27
[Will not select NU in 2017]
Foster Farms (vs. Pac-12)
Dec. 27


1. 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 2016.  When adding, remember not to include the likelihood for the Big Ten championship game, since its chances overlap with the other postseason games.  During the season, this list will change after each game.
2. 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 (in 2017, the B1G will likely play in the Gator Bowl, not the Music City Bowl).  This is also the case with the Heart of Dallas Bowl and the Armed Forces Bowl, which will try to alternate B1G selections.


Northwestern Bowl History

Select a link to view details about NU's 13 bowl appearances, bowl records, and other special games.