The Bowl Page



Little Change from Last Week

Updated Oct. 23

  • CFN:  Music City vs. LSU (last week: same)
  • CBS (Palm):   Quick Lane vs. EMU (last week: Quick Lane vs.  Boston College)
  • ESPN (McMurphy):  Holiday vs. Colorado (last week: Pinstripe vs. Virginia Tech)
  • ESPN (Schlabach):  Pinstripe vs. VA Tech (last week: Pinstripe vs. NC State)
  • ESPN (Bennett): Music City (last week: Pinstripe)
  • SB-Nation (Kirk):  Quick Lane vs. Syracuse (last week: Quick Lane vs. UCF)

Losses to a MAC team and an FCS squad put the 'Cats in a very large hole from which they needed to claw back to claim a .500 season. The clawing has reached a fever pitch with great road wins against Iowa and MSU and a home victory vs. Indiana. The wins put NU temporarily in the mix in the B1G West. More importantly, they keep the possibility of six wins alive.

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).

The 2014 arrangement involves 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. When we add to that the possibility of the Big Ten filling multiple "New Year's Six" bowl games, it becomes clear that the conference will likely have fewer qualified teams than bowl slots. This was the case last year (when two B1G teams with 5-7 records were given postseason spots), and it means that a team need only go 6-6 to virtually guarantee a bowl game.

HTP NU Bowl Projections

After several weeks of wild shifts in the HTP projections, things have settled down. The 'Cats' bowl chances remain well above 50%, and the team seems on track now for a tier-three or four bowl. Helping NU's chances:
  • Beating road teams as an underdog, and actually beating a B1G team at home, as a favorite
  • Avoiding critical injuries into the second half of the season
  • The ever-increasing likelihood that there will be an insufficient number of qualified six-win teams to fill all bowl slots this year. NU would be the #2 five-win team in the nation to get selected (Duke, if it finishes with five wins, would be #1).
HTP now projects a 70% chance that the 'Cats will go bowling this season. The most likely bowl for the 'Cats is the Foster Farms Bowl. The projection breakout by bowl tier is below.

The bowl projections will next be updated after the OSU game.

Schedule of Possible Bowls, 2016-17

(and Date)
(may change)
NU's Chances1
(as of 10/23/16)
Tier Three2
Big Ten #5-7

Music City Bowl (vs. SEC)
Dec. 30
[Likely to select B1G]
ESPN 36%
TaxSlayer (aka Gator) (vs. SEC)
Dec. 31
[Unlikely to select B1G in 2016]
Pinstripe Bowl (vs. ACC)
Dec. 28

Foster Farms Bowl (vs. Pac-12)
Dec. 28
Tier Four2
Big Ten #8-9

Quick Lane Bowl (vs. ACC)
Dec. 26

ESPN 32%
Armed Forces Bowl (MWC)
Dec. 23
Heart of Dallas (Big 12 vs. C-USA)
Dec. 27
At Large
Non-Aligned Bowl
n/a 2%


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. 

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.  This is also the case with the Heart of Dallas Bowl and the Armed Forces Bowl, which will try to alternate B1G selections. In 2016, the B1G will likely play in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, not the Armed Forces.


Northwestern Bowl History

Select a link to view details about NU's 12 bowl appearances, bowl records, and other special games.