The Bowl Page


Bowl Chances Slip;
Detroit, Dallas Are Best Bets

Nearly counted out of the postseason, the Wildcats briefly roared back into the picture. Stunning wins over Penn State and Wisconsin reset expectations. However, a slip at Minnesota and a catastrophic second half against Nebraska have yet again led to a big change in the bowl projections. The offense not only continues to struggle, it seems to be regressing. The defense also appears to be taking a step back.

The team's odds of making a bowl are now projected at 40%, down 11 percentage points from last week.  Tier projections are listed below.

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

Week of Oct. 19

CBS (Jerry Palm): No Bowl
ESPN (Adam Rittenberg): Dallas
ESPN (Brett McMurphy): Cactus (at large team)
ESPN (Mark Schlabach): No Bowl
CFN: tba
Phil Steele: Pinstripe

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).

Schedule of Possible Bowls, 2014-15
and HTP Odds
(and Date)
(may change)
NU's Chances*
(as of Oct. 19)
West #1
vs. East #1
Big Ten Championship
Lucas Oil Stadium
Dec. 6, 2014
Tier One
Big Ten #1

Playoff semifinal game:
Rose Bowl - Jan. 1, 2015
Sugar Bowl - Jan. 1, 2015

ESPN <1%
Orange, Cotton, Fiesta, Peach
  Bowls (alternate to Rose/
Capital One)
Dec. 31
Tier Two
Big Ten #2-4

Citrus (vs. SEC)
Jan. 1
ABC 2%
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
ESPN 15%
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 19%
Detroit Quick Lane Bowl (vs. ACC)
Dec. 26
Heart of Dallas (vs. C-USA)
Dec. 26

TBD n/a 4%

*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.  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.
 ** 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.