The Bowl Page


Will update during the week

CBS (Palm): Outback vs. LSU
ESPN (McMurphy): Outback vs. Arkns. (changed from  Holiday)
ESPN (Schlabach): Outback vs. Tennessee
ESPN (Bennett): TBA (last week: Pinstripe)
SB-Nation (Kirk): Outback vs. Tennessee


Two, down from three last week
CBS (Palm): Three, same as last week
ESPN (McMurphy): Three, same as last week
ESPN (Schlabach): Three, up from last week
ESPN (Bennett): TBA (last week: Two)
SB-Nation (Kirk): Three, same as last week

‘‘[NU and Wisconsin] both have very rich traditions, history and culture... They’ve been playing consistently excellent football. And they have excellent fan bases in Los Angeles, San Diego and Arizona, which is appealing to us.’’ --Holiday Bowl representative Gary Rectenwald, prior to the Wildcat-Badger game

Unlike last week, this week saw a significant shakeup for potential B1G bowl selections. Ohio State's loss to MSU will make the B1G East race a wild one next week, and will put OSU, MSU, and Michigan all in contention for the B1G championship. The CFP race for the B1G will likley focus on Iowa's performance in Indianapolis. It now looks more likely that the conference will score just two "New Years Six" bowl slots. With the big win over Wisconsin, NU is actually poised to make a run at a NY6 bowl; a win vs. Illinois will put the 'Cats at 10-2 and around 14th in the CFP rankings, but it won't be enough to get NU into the elite tier. The win over the Badgers, however, does make a tier two bowl much more likely for the team (yes, I know that the bowl tiers aren't technically being used by the Big Ten for team selection, but see my rationale for keeping this view, in the footnotes below1).

This year's bowl games are a similar slate to the one introduced last year, when the Big Ten bowl tiers were installed. 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, and it could go to ten -- or even eleven-- depending on the playoff selection and the "major six" other Jan. 1 bowls. It is now clear that the conference will not have enough eligible teams to fill all available slots.

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

NU Sets Up Bowl Tour Page

You know that the 'Cats are about to bowl when Northwestern updates its bowl tour site. For those interested, the Northwestern Alumni Association's updated page is It appears that the NAA is planning tours for any possible bowl for the 'Cats. One note: the Rose Bowl is the only NY6 bowl appearing on the NAA's list.

Current Week's HTP Bowl Projection:
HOLIDAY... Or Outback, Sort Of

So, it comes down to two things for NU: can the 'Cats beat their archrival at Soldier Field, and will Ohio State get a NY6 bowl bid? HTP is guessing yes to the first question and no to the second. That will very likely put NU in San Diego.

For those interested, here is HTP's full projection for the conference, as of November 22. Only eight teams are projected:
  • CFP: MSU (with wins over PSU and Iowa)
  • Rose: Iowa (with its first loss coming to MSU)
  • Other NY6 Bowl: none (although Ohio State might come very close)
  • Citrus: Ohio State (could easily be the Peach Bowl, which would propel NU to the Outback)
  • Outback: Michigan (with a loss to OSU. Michigan's 6-2 record and big win vs. NU will land them here)
  • Holiday: NU (as projected last week pending the win vs. Wisconsin. Even if NU does not beat Illinois, it should be able to hold off Wisconsin for this spot. A NY6 spot for OSU puts NU in the Outback or Citrus.)
  • Music City: Wisconsin (with a win vs. Minnesota)
  • Pinstripe: Indiana (with a win vs. Purdue)
  • Foster Farms: Penn State (with a loss to MSU)
  • Quick Change: no B1G team
  • Armed Forces: no B1G team

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

Schedule of Possible Bowls, 2015-16

(and Date)
(may change)
NU's Chances2
(as of Nov. 22)
Tier Two
Big Ten #2-4

Citrus Bowl (vs. SEC)
Jan. 1
ABC 95%
Outback Bowl (vs. SEC)
Jan. 1

Holiday Bowl (vs. Pac-12)
Dec. 30
Tier Three3
Big Ten #5-7

TaxSlayer (aka Gator) (vs. SEC)
Jan. 2
Music City Bowl (vs. SEC)
Dec. 30

Pinstripe Bowl (vs. ACC)
Dec. 26

Foster Farms Bowl (vs. Pac-12)
Dec. 26



1. Beginning in 2014, rather than each bowl selecting its B1G team, the process is quite a bit more complicated. The College Football Playoff committee selects the playoff teams, the Rose Bowl (if it is not part of the playoff) selects the B1G champ or-- if the champ is in the playoff-- whatever B1G team it wants. For the rest of the B1G tie-in bowls, the conference chooses the team (see here for the B1G official selection process, which pointed out). Initially, the conference had intended to separate the bowls into tiers, bowls within a tier being assigned not necessarily by team rating, but by "other" factors (previous appearance by the team in the bowl, matchup, media consideration, etc.). While the B1G is not technically following a tier process for its selection, the tiers are still practically in place: there is an obvious dropoff in bowl quality from tier to tier, and there is little difference in prestige for bowls within a given tier. Because of this, HTP will continue to use the tier view when projecting bowls.

2. 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 2015.

3. 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. Since the Big Ten went to the Gator Bowl last year, it is very likely that the conference will send a team to the Music City this year.


Northwestern Bowl History

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