The Bowl Page



NU Sells Out B1G Tix in 48 Hours;
45% of Student Body Indy Bound

If anyone doubted that NU would have a strong presence Lucas Oil Stadium, Wildcat fans swiftly disabused them of the notion. The school's 10,000 ticket allotment was snatched up in less than 48 hours.  Even with the dip in ticket demand after OSU won the B1G East (Michigan has never made it to Indy, and Wolverine fans were expected to come in droves), the game should be sold out.

In addition to the 10,000 tickets that NU sold to alumni and fans, the school's students snatched up another 3,400 tickets. Stop to marvel at that number: 45% of the entire Northwestern student body have signed up for the bus trip to Indianapolis. The caravan will require over 50 busses for the students alone.


The 'Cats have clinched the Big Ten West division with two games left to play in the regular season.  An incredible achievement (winning vs. Iowa, despite so many positions down due to injury) and a lucky one (Wisconsin losing to Penn State as expected; Purdue getting thumped by Minnesota, which definitely was not).

As such, the last two games in NU's regular season will mean nothing in terms of bowl eligibility, nor will they matter if Northwestern wins the B1G Championship Game. However, these last two games will definitly matter if NU loses the Indy game, since they will help define NU's bowl destination.

Holiday Overtakes Citrus

Updated Nov. 25
...In which the media come to their senses and stop predicting a rematch vs. Kentucky.

  • CFN:  Citrus vs. LSU (last week: Citrus vs. Kentucky)
  • CBS (Palm):  Holiday vs. Oregon  (last week: Citrus vs. Kentucky)
  • ESPN (Bonagura): TBA (last week: Citrus vs. Kentucky)
  • ESPN (Sherman): TBA (last week: Citrus vs. Miss. St.)
  • SB-Nation (Kirk): Holiday vs. Oregon (last week: TaxSlayer vs. S. Carolina)

HTP Final NU Bowl Projections:
West Coast Bound: Rose or Holiday?

The most likely bowl destination is interesting this year. I think that NU and the B1G were planning to lobby to get the 'Cats in a game on the West Coast if NU's record was appropriate. The Rose is now a given if NU wins in Indy. Should NU lose, then the 'Cats will likely end up in the Citrus or Holiday Bowls. Longer-shot bowls include TaxSlayer and Outback (NU has played each of these recently. I think these bowls will want to pass on NU, and NU fans would not be eager to return so soon), as well as RedBox now (too far down the food chain).

Of the choice between Citrus and Holiday, my projection remains  the Holiday Bowl. Citrus is more likley to pick one of the also-rans in the East, while a good West Coast bowl such as Holiday-- if not the Rose-- is a high target for the 'Cats. It's also likely that the Citrus or Outback would entail a rematch of a recent NU bowl (Kentucky or Mississippi State), which is to be avoided.

I will not be providing a projection after the Ohio State game. If Northwestern wins, NU is Rose Bowl-bound. If the 'Cats lose, we'll find out within hours where NU will land.

Schedule of Possible Bowls, 2018-19

AND Schedule for the 2018 Big Ten Championship Game
(and Date)
(may change)
NU's Chances1
(as of 11/25/18)

West #1
vs. East #1
Big Ten Championship: CLINCHED
Lucas Oil Stadium
Dec. 1, 2018
Fox 100%
Tier One
Big Ten #1

Playoff semifinal games:
Cotton - Dec. 29, 2018
Orange - Dec. 29

ESPN 38%
(Rose only)
Rose (vs. Pac-12)
Jan. 1, 2019
Fiesta Bowl (at large)
Jan. 1

Peach Bowl (at large)
Dec. 29

Tier Two
Big Ten #2-4

Citrus Bowl (vs. SEC)
Jan. 1
[Orange Bowl is a semifinal game for 2018-19]
ABC 57%
Outback Bowl (vs. SEC)
Jan. 1
Holiday Bowl (vs. Pac-12)
Dec. 31

Tier Three2
Big Ten #5-7

Music City Bowl (vs. SEC)
Dec. 28
[Unlikely to select B1G in 2018]
TaxSlayer (aka Gator) (vs. SEC)
Dec. 31
[Likely to select B1G in 2018]
Pinstripe Bowl (vs. ACC)
Dec. 27
[Unlikely to select NU in 2018]
RedBox (aka San Fran) (vs. Pac-12)
Dec. 31


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 14 bowl appearances, bowl records, and other special games.