The Green Jacket Handicaps NU’s Bowl Possibilities

Fitz in black NU sweatshirt game

Eds. note: this post has been updated as of 6:12 p.m. CT

UPDATE: Miami self-imposes bowl ban. Read more below in ACC section. Updated C-USA info. Added more Big 12, Pac 12 info.

I’ve had multiple sources tell me, last week, before our game with Minnesota that the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl had their eyes on NU and was hoping to pit NU vs Cal in San Francisco. The sources are reliable (when aren’t they), but with a massive shakeup of top-ranked teams this weekend, I’ve brought in The Green Jacket, our anonymous former bowl committee member and NU grad to help give us the 101…Green Jacket, the mic is yours…

This is the time of year when every play in every game counts. So, how much football am I watching? You may think you saw the game of the night, but did you see the Utah State Outbacking its way to a double OT win? The Aggies stormed the field twice thinking they had won only to have replay extend the game.

In all my years on a bowl selection committee, I’ve never seen such thick soup surrounding the ‘Cats and our bowl prospects. I never imagined I’d have to search for secondary terms in the back-up contract for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

So let’s work through what happened this weekend. Rarely can you win your game, have everything break your way in conference and still take a step back in the bowl selection process (the at-large pool).

Just eight days ago, it was almost unthinkable the B1G could get two teams in the BCS. Now we’re just one game away from that becoming a reality.

Going forward, we’re hoping Michigan beats Ohio State and sits in the clubhouse at 10-2 making them a BCS at-large selection

BIG 12

Thanks to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both losing, the B1G is in fantastic shape. Oklahoma now has two losses and Oklahoma State has one. If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, the Cowboys will have two losses. Advantage Michigan when putting them head-to-head.

If Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma, the Sooners will have three losses and be out of the BCS.

Here’s the problem. This pushes everyone in the Big 12 back a slot. Iowa State, Missouri, etc. join the bowl eligible teams and the conference now has eight eligible teams with seven guaranteed slots. If Texas Tech beats Baylor, that makes it nine eligible teams.

So not only does the Pinstripe come off the table, the Big 12 is over-subscribed and sends a team(s) to the at-large pool to compete with everyone else.

NAVY

Navy won’t be bowl eligible which opens up the Military…. Until you consider Air Force who became bowl eligible today and will probably take that slot as an at-large outside the conference tie-ins since the MWC has more eligible teams than spots. The bowl will stick with a service academy in its selection.

ACC

NC State is no longer left for dead and will be bowl eligible by defeating lowly Maryland next week.

Miami, although bowl eligible, has self-imposed a bowl ban meaning Military (if NC State loses) and Kraft open back up. HOWEVER, Kraft has a back-up agreement with the MAC and I don’t know if they can opt out after going through Army, the ACC and the WAC. There are currently six bowl eligible MAC teams with the possibility for more.

So the ACC has seven bowl eligible teams with one more possible. The ninth team is a conditional pick for Kraft.

PAC 12

UCLA becomes bowl eligible which gives the conference eight teams and seven slots. As long as both Oregon and Stanford go to the BCS, the New Mexico Bowl will be available from the Pac 12 side. Oregon’s loss doesn’t matter as long as they beat Oregon State and win the Pac 12 Championship. Stanford would have to beat Notre Dame.

At-large pool

It appears the Pinstripe, Military, and Kraft may all be unavailable. So what’s left from the at-large pool?

If the ACC supplies Kraft the WAC would have Hawaii open provided Utah State doesn’t win another game and Hawaii doesn’t win their last two. Hawaii is possibly open on the C-USA side if Houston goes to the BCS and Central Florida beats UTEP.

The SEC still may have the Liberty or Compass open (the SEC office would fill the Liberty first).

Conference USA may not fill out if Houston moves up but again the Military may not be available to them (Air Force) and if the TicketCity opens, the bowl won’t select B1G vs B1G.

The New Mexico may be back on the table by virtue of Pac 12 teams moving up.

Hawaii is possibly open on the C-USA side if Houston goes to the BCS and Central Florida beats UTEP.

BCS teams barring additional upsets (Michigan wins)

B1G – Michigan State or Wisconsin, Michigan
SEC – LSU, Alabama
PAC 12 – Oregon, Stanford
ACC – Clemson or Virginia/Virginia Tech
Big 12 – Oklahoma or Oklahoma State
Big East – ?
Houston

So let’s look at the B1G.

If you’re slotting Michigan in the BCS, in my opinion, it will be crucial for Northwestern to be selected by a conference bowl otherwise the opportunity to reach an at-large will be extremely limited, regardless of a 7-5 or 6-6 record.

I can’t say where Penn State will go should they lose the Championship game. However, I project they will be selected ahead of Northwestern regardless.

I believe it comes down to this: the selection order for Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue. One of these teams will be in the at-large pool. I project Northwestern will be selected ahead of Purdue. If Michigan doesn’t get to the BCS, then two of those teams get sent to the at-large pool.

PROJECTIONS (Michigan in the BCS):

Northwestern beats Michigan State OR Michigan State beats Northwestern

Minnesota beats Illinois

Purdue beats Indiana

TicketCity = Northwestern, Motor City = Purdue, at-large = Illinois

Northwestern beats Michigan State OR Michigan State beats Northwestern

Illinois beats Minnesota

Purdue beats Indiana

TicketCity = Illinois, Motor City = Northwestern, at-large = Purdue

If Michigan is not in the BCS, everyone moves down a slot. Of course, St. Phillips provided a miracle in 2009, so moving up to Houston is also a longshot possibility. Finally, here’s your eligibility cheat sheet for the upcoming week.

ACC

Eligible teams = 7
8. Military
9. Kraft (conditional)
NC State (6-5) – Clemson (must win 7)
*Miami has removed itself from bowl consideration

Big East

Eligible teams = 4
5. Compass or Liberty
6. Beef O’ Brady
South Florida (5-5) – Louisville, West Virginia
Pittsburgh (5-5) – @West Virginia, Syracuse
Syracuse (5-5) – Cincinnati, @ Pittsburgh
Connecticut (4-6) –Rutgers, @ Cincinnati

SEC

Eligible teams = 7

8/9 – Liberty/Compass
Vanderbilt (5-6) – @ Wake Forest
Mississippi State (5-6) – Mississippi
Tennessee (5-6) –@ Kentucky

Pac 12

Eligible teams = 8

7. New Mexico

Big 12

Eligible teams = 8
7. Pinstripe
Texas Tech (5-6) – Baylor

Conference USA

Eligible teams = 4
5. Hawaii
6. Ticket City
7. Military (if no ACC or Navy) projected Air Force
UTEP (5-6) – @ UCF
Marshall (5-6) – East Carolina

WAC

Eligible teams = 2
3. Hawaii
4. Kraft projected to be filled by ACC
Utah State (5-5) – Nevada, @ New Mexico State

More updates as the day goes on….

Source Bowl Opponent Last Week
ESPN/Rittenberg  Texas – Houston Texas A&M Ticket City – Dallas
ESPN/Schlabach  Ticket City UTEP Pinstripe – NY
ESPN/Edwards Little Caesar’s Toledo New Orleans
Orlando Sentinel Ticket City UTEP Kraft – SF
CBS Sports  Little Caesar’s Toledo Kraft – SF
BTN/Dienhart Kraft – SF
Phil Steele Kraft – SF
St. Pete Times none Hawai’i
SI/Mandel Hawai’i
Sun Times Little Caesar’s
Athlon Little Caesar’s
CollegeBowlProjections None None
Scout.com New Mexico San Diego State None
Joey Johnston/NBCSports Little Caesars Northern Illinois

Notes

-Scout.com has the Pac 12 not filling out the New Mexico.
-St. Pete Times now sends Purdue to Hawai’i and Northwestern nowhere.
-CBS Sports sends Penn State to Hawai’i as the last B1G team chosen.
-NBC Sports does not have Purdue in a bowl.
-Rittenberg has Northwestern selected ahead of (in order) Purdue and Illinois.
-Schlabach has Northwestern selected ahead of (in order) Purdue, Ohio State and Illinois.
-Edwards has Northwestern selected ahead of Illinois.

 

  • Green Jacket

    I have corrected the Big 12 portion of the post to indicate the proper number of losses for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

    • Green Jakcet

      BIG 12

      Thanks to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both losing, the B1G is in fantastic shape. Oklahoma now has two losses and Oklahoma State has one. If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, the Cowboys will have two losses. Advantage Michigan when putting them head-to-head.

      If Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma, the Sooners will have three losses and be out of the BCS.

      Here’s the problem. This pushes everyone in the Big 12 back a slot. Iowa State, Missouri, etc. join the bowl eligible teams and the conference now has eight eligible teams with seven guaranteed slots. If Texas Tech beats Baylor, that makes it nine eligible teams.

      So not only does the Pinstripe come off the table, the Big 12 is over-subscribed and sends a team(s) to the at-large pool to compete with everyone else.

    • http://thesportsbizblog.blogspot,com Mark

      If you really want to have fun and bend your mind around interesting and confusing puzzles, try figuring who will represent the Big East in the Orange Bowl. Right now there are five schools with 2 conference losses, and while there are games left among the five, that will likely elminiate only one or at most two schools from consideration. The Big East is likely to have to resort to the second or third tiebreaker to finally figure it out.

    • eric braeutigam

      winning a bowl matters more than appearing in a more prestigious bowl. no one cares how well they played in losses against usc, mizzou, and auburn in high-profile bowls; the losing streak gets way more national coverage, and that story is bad for business as far as the football team is concerned. i’m hoping for the match up the cats are most likely to win.

  • PittsburghWildcat

    A minor correction: the Pac-12 will only have 7 Bowl Eligible teams. USC is ineligible for a bowl this year (and New Mexico is not in the Pac 12). So, the Pac-12 will fill its slots, but won’t have anyone in the fill-out-the-field pool.

    Assuming Michigan beats Ohio State next weekend, I also think they’re sitting pretty for a BCS at-large. Not worth going over the math again because you covered it well.

    I had the ‘Cats headed to DC thanks to Navy’s loss, but your thinking of filling Navy’s slot with another academy unquestionably has merit. Air Force though is not yet bowl eligible. They, like NC State, have 2 FCS wins. But, USAF has an extremely winnable game this weekend vs. Colo State. The Mountain West has 5 bowl eligibles for 4 tie-ins, so if USAF was guaranteed the Military, that conference commish could probably talk the New Mexico Bowl into taking Wyoming.

    Speaking of NC State, I would bet the folks at the Kraft Bowl were really upset that NCSU pulled off that win last night. They can’t be excited about that NC State vs. Cal matchup.

    One other thing that hasn’t come up. Let’s assume Purdue beats Indiana to also get to bowl eligible. Also assuming Michigan gets a BCS, which makes the Pizza Pizza Bowl essentially the B1G’s 9th pick.

    Wouldn’t you like to think the B1G Conference Office talks to the folks at that bowl to not repeat history — or at least make sure NU is covered and goes to a Bowl somewhere? We all know NU got passed over by them a few years ago. Purdue doesn’t exactly have a ton of mojo, but I really don’t want to think Delany and Co. would let one of its schools get mathematically shut out at 6-6 twice in this short a time span.

    • PittsburghWildcat

      Sorry, I just realized you meant the “New Mexico Bowl.”

    • Green Jacket

      You are correct with USC, so in fact New Mexico may not fill out on the PAC-12 side. Thank you for catching that.

    • Mike

      Conference USA has six natural bowl bids as you indicate, however one of the four bowl eligible teams is Houston ( which is likely going to the BCS). East Carolina and Marshall have in effect a play in game next week as both are 5-6 currently. If UCF beats UTEP only 5 total conference USA teams will be bowl eligible. That means that two of their bids can’t be filled, if Houston goes to the BCS. Hawaii may be a possibility for the CATS if they do not go to a Big Ten affiliated bowl.

      • Green Jacket

        Correct. You would need UCF to beat UTEP in that scenario. I hadn’t updated the CUSA standings this morning.

  • TENman

    Hmmm.

    What I’m reading here is that an at-large bowl bid is getting more and more unlikely, and that we’ll have to win against Michigan State to have a chance. State has been absolutely merciless this year to opponents with weaker defenses, and could very well be our stiffest test of the year.

    A win, however, does open up some interesting scenarios:

    How does a 7-5 Northwestern compare to a 6-6 Ohio State, 6-6 Purdue, or 7-5/6-6 Illinois? I’m thinking that riding a five game win streak and with quality wins over Michigan State and Nebraska, we’d be getting the nod over any of these other programs. In this light, it seems like one of the Texas bowls would be more likely than Detroit.

    Assume we do win Saturday, and fall all the way to Pizza, does whoever win the MAC influence Pizza bowl’s B1G selection? Would an Illinois/Northern Illinois tilt be considered more desirable than a NU/Northern Illinois match-up?

    Lastly, anybody hear any word on whether B1G is thinking of upping their number of bowl affiliations since Nebraska is now in the fold? Maybe this will be the last bowl contract cycle a 6-6 B1G team will have to sweat it out. And, if B1G does add another, which bowl would you like to see?

    • Green Jacket

      In your scenario above I would project:

      1. OSU 6-6
      2. Illinois 7-5
      3. Northwestern 6-6
      4. Purdue 6-6

      1. OSU 6-6
      2. Northwestern 7-5
      3. Purdue 6-6
      4. Illinois 6-6

      1. OSU 6-6
      2. Northwestern 6-6
      3. Purdue 6-6
      4. Illinois 6-6

      The MAC team will not influence who Little Caesar’s takes.

      • ncrmd

        What about factoring in a 7-5 Iowa team into this projection? It would not be surprising to have them lose to Nebraska this weekend.

        • Richard

          Iowa will be in a bowl ahead of NU regardless of whether they win or lose due to their strong traveling fanbase.

      • TENman

        GL:

        It does make sense that OSU would be picked ahead of NU regardless of record.

        Thanks for your insights into the pecking order, and also for our work and analysis on LTP. You’re always a great read!

    • zeek

      Big Ten will probably look at adding another bowl to the mix when the new contracts come up…

  • PittsburghWildcat

    Looked at the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Pete, which is one of the CUSA Bowls that might not get filled. That Bowl has an alternate tie-in with the Sun Belt to provide a team, which it would be in position to do.

    So scratch the St. Pete Beef Bowl off the potential list of at-large places we could land unless both the Big East and CUSA both fell short here, which is unlikely.

  • http://LakeThePosts DT

    First off, what bowl does Jack Marshall think looks probable at this point? I’d like his pick! He is on the hot streak!!!

    Mine? I think the New Orleans Bowl and probably a game against a good Arkansas State team is in the cards… Nawlins and a match up against an equally talented Mid Major would be a good place for this NU team. Early match up in bowl season might keep some of the recent “mo” going as well…

  • cece

    so can we rank our likely bowl destinations at this point? just a simple list for those of us who are way hungover from yesterday? puhleezzze?

    • zeek

      It’s all way up in the air right now since there’s so many teams at 5 wins (or NC State at 6 needing a 7th)…

      Best for us to just focus on Michigan State since that’s the best way to guarantee a bowl game.

      • cece

        thanks for the focus!

  • Dozer

    Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, but I think the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in SF could still be considered in play… only because losing to Maryland and missing bowl eligibility would be totally in character for this year’s NC State team. The Clemson win was huge, but this is also the team that lost to Boston College last week and has had some pretty ugly games this year.

    They definitely should beat Maryland… but this is also a game they could screw up. Maybe the collective energies of Northwestern fans around the country rooting against them could tip the balance.

    Regardless, let’s just beat Michigan State.

  • CTWildcat

    Hey Green Jacket – I read on ACC blog that Miami might self-impose a bowl ban to get ahead of ncaa sanctions. How would that, if at all, impact the Kraft bowl decision?

  • TENman

    GL – Thanks for sharing your insight into this pecking order, and also for your work and analyasis on LTP. It does make a lot of sense that OSU would be picked ahead in all scenarios.

  • David

    Vandy, Tenn and Miss St can all be eliminated next week. The SEC might have 10 slots with 7 teams.

  • Green Jacket

    I just got word of this now, but Miami has indeed imposed a self bowl ban, meaning Military and Kraft are back on the table. However, and this speaks directly to the first part of my post, Kraft has a backup contract with the MAC. Whether they can opt out of this and consider the at-large pool is something I don’t knwo for sure.

    • Green Jacket

      and just to let you know, poor LTP, I’ve been bombarding him with e-mails all day based on updates, omissions and corrections. Thank goodness he’s a lenient editor.

  • http://www.northwesternhighlights.com Northwestern Highlights

    We know that Penn State could fall, meaning even a 6-6 Ohio State team could head to the Insight Bowl. However, this makes me wonder if Ohio State will follow suit and institute a self-imposed bowl ban, as well. They have an NCAA hearing set for sometime in December, I believe, so the timing will be interesting. And it may depend on what happens in the game against Michigan. Would they take a bid at 7-5 but pass at 6-6 and coming off a loss to the Wolverines?

    If Michigan gets a 2nd BCS bid and Ohio State decides to impose a self-ban, no Big Ten team will fall to an unaffiliated bowl, even if Purdue beats Indiana. That would also benefit Penn State, as the Gator Bowl cannot select a team with 2 fewer wins, though the Insight Bowl can.

  • knickelbein5

    No no no no no no. Why is everyone thinking that we are not even going to get a B1G bowl? I posted this yesterday:

    The way I see the bowl scenario shaking out. Assuming we win next week, we are competing with Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio State for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. Next week Illinois plays @Minnesota, Iowa plays @Nebraska, and Ohio State plays @Michigan. I would argue that none of those teams are going to win next week, leaving NU with a huge opportunity to finish 7-5, ahead of 6-6 Illinois and 6-6 Ohio State, and tied with 7-5 Iowa. At that point, I would say that given our momentum (riding a 5 game win streak), we would get a bid to the Car Care bowl. And, if Michigan get a BCS birth, that would virtually assure us a spot in the Car Care Bowl and would even open up the possibility for the Insight Bowl. Obviously, that is all for naught if we don’t beat MSU next week.

    • zeek

      I think everyone assumes that we’re a lock for a solid bowl if we’re 7-5.

      The only thing up in the air is if we finish 6-6.

      Right now though, we have a pretty good opportunity to knock off Michigan State with how our defense has been playing and the fact that they already clinched the division.

      • Jim

        Secondary to be tested by MSU

        Zeek,… “with how our defense has been playing”….admittedly there has been improvement against the run, in communication, developing depth and we haven’t given up the explosion plays, etc.

        But, as we’ll probably be discussing on LTP this week, the MSU quarterback and his receivers will present a challenge that the defense hasn’t seen over the past four weeks in the recovery phase.

  • zeek

    Just off the top of my head, but would Ohio State consider docking themselves a bowl this year?

    That might be enough to appease the NCAA; doesn’t seem like they’ve done enough to warrant a 2 year bowl ban on top of scholarship reductions.

    That would clear things up for Urban Meyer or a big time coach next year if they knew that the bowl ban was coming this year. That’s just another possibility to consider with what’s happened at Miami. I’m sure Ohio State doesn’t mind giving up a 6-6 bowl bid this year if it helps out their coaching search for next year and beyond…

  • Green Jacket

    If anyone would like to take a peek, this morning’s post has been updated to reflect additional and current info. Thanks for getting it up there!

  • SB

    AR and BB at ESPN are now projecting the TicketCity Bowl (again) for NU:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/bigten/post/_/id/39362/big-ten-bowl-projections-week-13-3

    • Green Jacket

      …same as last week, while Schlabach gives a huge compliment and bumping us from the Pinstripe (at-large) all the way to Houston.

    • Chadnudj

      I gotta disagree with AR and BB….wouldn’t TicketCity go different? In their scenario, I’d see Purdue taken by TicketCity, and we’d get taken (over Illinois) for the Pizza Bowl, which I’m fine with.

  • zeek

    Huge win against Seton Hall. We looked dominant until that 15 point run by Seton Hall, but we showed a huge amount of poise down the stretch. Pope is a really impressive player; he did it all for Seton Hall.

    Good win in my opinion. I think Seton Hall will get some wins in the Big East, that can only help us in the future.

    Feels good to win a tournament like this, even though we all know Big Ten play is where we need to shine this year. I like how our team looks early though.

    • vaudvillain

      Pope was the player of the day, on either side. Shurna’s 3 to stop the bleeding on that 15-0 run was huge, and Crawford had another nice day. Good to see the Cats stay poised (I know I didn’t) and come away with the win. Go Cats!

    • vaudvillain

      And the announcers gave a shout-out to Buffalo Joe’s. Man, it’s been forever since I’ve had a pan of suicide wings…

      • zeek

        Yeah, I was shocked at that shoutout. That was a really nice touch.

  • jason

    BBALL WINS….. and covers the mofo spread!

  • Farmer

    This bowl discussion is monstrously irrelevant to Saturday’s game.

    Unless our coaches can figure out a way to get some pressure on Cousins, that is, if he has all day to pick apart our secondary like he’s had two years in a row, we’ll embarrassingly lose by a bundle and be home for the holidays.

    Bottom line: pressure on Cousins, will be the likely determinant of whether we go bowling.

    We’re going to have to gamble defensively with lots of blitzs and by rushing 4……none of this 3 malarkey.

    Fitz and Hank, I hope you get this message.

    • Jim

      Farmer, totally correct about this defensive challenge !

      Despite the enthusiasm expressed for the improvement in the NU D. over the past four weeks, MSU QB Kirk C., his OL, and his receivers is a much different challenge……Remains to be seen whether the NU D is up to this kind of chllenge.

    • Richard

      Farmer:

      Very likely that NU will go bowling even if we’re blown out by MSU.

  • cardiac_cat_fan

    it has just been reported today, Sunday, that Miami (ACC) is self imposing a ban on bowl games for this year to lessen the NCAA pending penalty on them. in any way, does this help Northwestern with a bowl game like the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. I love macaroni and cheese and would love to go to San Fran.

    p.s. Sparty, we’re coming for you!

    GO CATS!

  • ncrmd

    With USC ineligible for post season play, there is a possibility that either UCLA or Arizona State could play Stanford/Oregon for the Pac-12 championship game. If UCLA or Arizona State lost that game to go 6-7, would they lose their bowl eligibility by being under .500??

    • Richard

      If a 6-6 UCLA gets to the Pac title game and loses, they would not be bowl eligible.

      However, it would be a rather small probability. UCLA would have to lose to USC (extremely likely), ASU would have to lose to Cal (toss up), and Utah would have to lose to Colorado (unlikely).

      ASU can not get to the Pac title game at 6-6 since they would have to lose to Cal to get tot 6-6, but if they lose their last game, UCLA goes due to their better conference record.

  • Californicat

    Happy birthday, Dan Persa!

  • Richard

    Question with the Hawaii bowl: If Hawaii doesn’t become eligible, does the Hawaii Bowl have to take another WAC team or can they fish in the at-large pool? With Hawaii leaving the WAC, the Hawaii Bowl is probably leaving with them, so I’m not sure how tied the bowl is to the WAC, and NU likely is more attractive to them than Utah St. (Assuming USU qualifies).

  • Richard

    Since someone asked what bowls I’d like to see with UNL added, here’s my list:

    2. (Cap One) Orlando
    3. (Outback) Tampa
    4. (Alamo) SA
    5. (Insight) AZ
    6&7. (Holiday) SD & (Texas) Houston or (Texas) Houston and Charlotte
    8. (Pinstripe) NYC
    9. Detroit
    10. Conditional DC

    Go where the alums and recruits are.

  • PBR Cat

    It would really be interesting if Northwestern can take care of its business against Michigan State while Minnesota upset Illinois and Indiana startled Purudue. Asking the Hoosiers to take the Oaken Bucket is no small task, but if they succeeded that would eliminate the Boilermakers from the equation. If the Illini lost their final regular season game to the Golden Gophers, how attractive would a 6-6 bowl eligible team be to bowl sponsors after losing six in a row? Wishful thinking, of course, but stranger things have happened. First things first, Go Cats! Beat Sparty!

  • Lake The Posts

    @all -It seems like a foregone conclusion most of you are picking Illinois to lose at Minnesota. Really? Do I think it could happen? Yes. Likely? No.

    • PittsburghWildcat

      Ditto that thought.

      The Gophers just seem primed to beat this particular Illinois team. Minnesota is playing hard and with confidence. Illinois seems to be the complete opposite. But I still would not assume anything is a foregone conclusion with either of those teams.

      The added wrinkle now for Illinois could be the fact that if they lose to Minnesota to end up 6-6, they’re the ones left out of the bowl slots.

    • Jim

      LTP: Upset: NU’s D. and MSU O.

      I don’t want to dampen enthusiasm for: (a) NU’s improved D over the past 4 games and/or (b) the chances for an upset. MSU’s passing offense may present a challenge that the NU D hasn’t proven itself against over the past 4 weeks.

      LTP: Can you drill down on this angle during the week, to parallel differentiate between the 7-5 and 6-6 scenarios ?

  • Steve K

    Re: OSU self-imposed ban.

    They’d be foolish NOT to do it. Since they’re going to a second-rate bowl this year anyway, they should skip it. They’ll likely have a better record in subsequent years and qualify for much larger payouts. Sacrificing this year makes the most sense. No doubt Miami used the same logic.

  • CatInTheHat

    This is one of the most fascinating and frustrating bowl selection seasons in recent memory.

    1. OSU would be wise to self-impose a bowl ban, since they’re going to be staring down the barrell of the bottom third of the B1G bowl pecking order. However, I wonder if they’re too proud to remove themselves.

    2. I think that there are intangibles at play in the NU-Sparty matchup that heavily favor the Cats. Chief among them is the fact that Sparty literally has nothing to gain here, as they have already secured their spot in Indy. Losing Cousins or any other critical role player to injury in Evanston would be devastating for MSU. There are three scenarios that I can see playing out here:

    a) It’s a close game from the get-go, and Dantonio leaves all of the starters in for the second half. Sparty narrowly beats NU.

    b) NU rushes out to a double-digit lead, which it maintains at the half. Not wanting to risk injury to Cousins, Dantonio pulls him in the third quarter, and the Cats hang on for win #7.

    c) Sparty rushes out to a three-score lead, which it maintains at the half. Not wanting to risk injury to Cousins, Dantonio pulls him in the third quarter. The Cats make it interesting, closing the gap to one score, but Dantonio allows Cousins to re-enter the game in the fourth quarter and finish off a narrow MSU victory.

    In my opinion, none of these scenarios would be detrimental to NU’s bowl hopes. A win is gravy. I find it unlikely that we will be blown out by Michigan State.

    Sadly, I’ll be in Japan and unable to lend my good vibes to this one in person. Anyone know of a good NU bar in Tokyo?

    GO CATS!

  • Dave

    Minnesota fan here. First, congrats on the win. Went to the game, and had a great time tailgating outside the stadium with some VERY hospitable Wildcat fans. Even met Gary Barnett during the postgame tailgate.

    I think our game with Illinois this Satuday will determine whether the ‘Cats or Illini go to Detroit – Purdue should get eligible against Indiana, and with it being their first bowl in four years, and the TicketCity likely looking for a different B10 rep, I see the Boilers as the most attractive team.

    One thing not discussed much in the bowl breakdown is the MAC and all their secondary tie-ins. They have back-up deals with the BBVA Compass Bowl, Kraft Bowl, and New Mexico Bowl, and it seems likely they’ll fill at least two of those spots. NIU, Toledo, Ohio, Western Michigan and Temple should all get bowl bids, and Ball State could join them.

    As I see it, the only remaining at-large openings would be the vacated C-USA slots in the New Orleans Bowl and the Hawaii Bowl (which will still take a WAC team, assuming Utah State becomes eligible). Illinois/Northwestern, Iowa State and perhaps a 6-6 Big East team (Syracuse/Pitt/South Florida….who knows, that conference is a mess) would be the AQ schools at the top of the list.

    Anyway, good luck this Saturday against Sparty and in the bowl game. Hope we can join the postseason fun again within the next couple of years.

  • Ron

    Do the Big Ten Bowl Contracts allow individual universities to decline to participate in conference bowls if offered in compliance with those contracts?

  • http://www.northwesternhighlights.com Northwestern Highlights

    After doing some reading, I wanted to give my thoughts on the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. It does indeed appear to be a realistic possibility.

    First, let’s layout their selection process. The game pits a Pac-12 opponent against Army/WAC/MAC. The Pac-12 will fill their spot regardless of whether they send one or two to the BCS. Army is ineligible, so Kraft would then look to the WAC.

    The WAC has three bowl tie-ins, excluding their agreement with the BCS. They are the Poinsettia Bowl, the Idaho Bowl, and the Hawai’i Bowl. Currently, the WAC has two bowl eligible teams in Louisiana Tech and Nevada. Both have already accepted bowl invitations to the Poinsettia Bowl and Idaho Bowl, respectively. The WAC also has two schools that can still become bowl eligible.

    Hawai’i currently sits at 5-6, without their starting QB, and finish with home games against Tulane and BYU. Due to their 13 game season, they must finish at least 7-6 to become bowl eligible. If they do, they have an agreement with the Hawai’i Bowl for an automatic invitation. But there’s a good chance that Hawai’i will not get to 7 wins, which we won’t know until the night of December 3rd unless they lose to Tulane. The other school is Utah State, which sits at 5-5. They host Nevada on Saturday and travel to New Mexico State on December 3rd. A win against either would make Utah State bowl eligible for the first time in 11 years. If both schools gain bowl eligibility, they will fill both the Hawai’i Bowl and Kraft Bowl slots. If one or none gain eligibility, however, the Kraft Bowl slot will not be filled by the WAC.

    And this is where things get interesting. I refer you to this update from the executive director of the Kraft Bowl, dated November 16th: http://www.kraftbowl.org/ot/embl-from-the-exec.html

    Specifically this: “Two other conferences may have an extra team available–the Big Ten and Mountain West, so there may be some horse trading and last-minute deals to come. One thing is certain: the next three weeks are going to be a wild ride. Stay tuned.”

    The Kraft Bowl currently has a backup deal for the 5th bowl eligible team from the MAC, which currently has 7 bowl eligible teams. However, based on the above passage, it is clear that a team from the MAC is not certain to backup the WAC should the WAC not fill the spot. If they were motivated enough, they could try to make some sort of deal to avoid taking a MAC program. I believe it was Teddy Greenstein who wrote last week that the Kraft bowl was keen on Northwestern. It certainly helps given the number of alumni in California. Their board chairman got his MBA from Northwestern, which probably helps things, as well.

    And this brings us back to the Big Ten. I’m uncertain if Northwestern would pass on a Little Caesar’s invite to go to San Francisco if there is no other Big Ten team to take that spot, but for the sake of this exercise, I’m going to assume they would not. So in order for Northwestern to go to the Kraft Bowl, one of the following scenarios must unfold:

    1) Michigan gets an at-large BCS bid (a near certainty if they beat Ohio State) and neither Penn State nor Ohio State decide to forgo bowl invites
    2) Michigan gets an at-large BCS bid, one of Penn State or Ohio State forgo a bowl invite but not both, and Purdue beats Indiana to become bowl eligible
    3) Michigan loses to Ohio State, sending only one Big Ten team to a BCS bowl

    I think Northwestern would like to head to Houston for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, but that likely will only happen if Michigan gets an at-large BCS bid and either one of Penn State or Ohio State forgo a bowl invite or Penn State falls to Meineke and they decide to pass on the Nittany Lions, as well. I’d imagine that the TicketCity Bowl would like to avoid taking Northwestern for the second straight year and Northwestern probably wouldn’t mind. And the Little Caesar’s Bowl would likely take the more local fan base in Purdue if the Boilermakers gain bowl eligibility and possibly even Illinois’ local fan base despite their slide. However, even if the TicketCity Bowl or the Little Caesar’s Bowl preferred Northwestern, Northwestern and the Big Ten office could work things out with those two bowls to allow Northwestern to head to San Francisco.

    If the Kraft Bowl is an option, of course.

    • Lake The Posts

      I had mentioned late last week that I had received multiple sources claiming that the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl had NU in its sights with a possible ’49 rematch – ‘Cats vs Cal – based on our large SF alumni base, travel record and Big Ten/major market (Chicago) eyeballs. Indeed, the director has NU ties which doesn’t hurt!

      • http://www.northwesternhighlights.com Northwestern Highlights

        And a 2013/2014 preview. I would assume that they’d prefer Cal, but they do have the last pick. Utah, Washington, Cal, ASU, and UCLA are all possibilities for a trip to San Francisco to represent the Pac-12.

        It’s also worth mentioning that if Michigan loses, the Purdue/Indiana outcome probably won’t matter. And if Michigan wins, Purdue beating Indiana could be a good thing. But only if an at-large bowl invite is better than a Big Ten tie-in bowl.

  • CTWildcat

    LTP readers,

    I would also like your opinion on the potential for NU going to the Military Bowl if Air Force loses this week agains CSU. Living in CT I would be ecstatic if NU went to DC for the bowl game. I know Fitz doesn’t have a say but he seems to often look for opportunities to offer thanks and appreciation to the men & women representing our country. I suspect NU has lots of alum in DC area. I would look forward to a match-up against the ACC.

    My top choices would be:
    1. Military
    2. Hawaii (good excuse for a vaca and I have family on the island)
    3. Kraft
    4. Car Care

    • http:///www.northwesternhighlights.com Northwestern Highlights

      The same scenarios would apply. However, I think NU would be less likely to lobby for that game instead of a Big Ten tie-in. And though the east coast alumni are strong, including in DC, I’m not sure how strong of a push the bowl would make for NU. It’s also a mid-week game, making it a bit less appealing.

      The ACC has a good chance of filling their spot. NC State will ensure that with a victory over Maryland. However, if NC State loses, the ACC will not be filling that spot.

      The other spot would go to Navy, but they’re ineligible. The Big 12 has a deal to send an 8th bowl eligible team to either the TicketCity or Military Bowl if there is an open spot in either. Texas Tech could be that team with a win, though they’d probably be more likely to go to the TicketCity Bowl rather than DC. I thought that CUSA had a deal with them, but that’s only for 2010 and 2012. Not this year. So it’s possible.

      As for Hawai’i, I don’t think NU would want to make that push at all. Very few fans would go and it’s the day before Christmas.

  • Ende

    Disagree that winning a bowl is the most important. Look at the excitement that happened in the last bowls. That sells tv time and interest. A sure shot does not sells as much interest. No one would say that since nu has lost the past x nimber of bowls that it is not going to be a great game to watch or have involved.

  • http://LakeThePosts DT

    What’s next Ende, folks watching NU play to see if we can keep the losing streak going? I’m sure throngs of viewers are tuning in to see if NU can replicate many of our bowl performances ala giving up two on-side kicks for TD’s and allowing Nebraska a new record for total yards and points. Sure, The Outback Bowl was exciting and much like The Alamo Bowl provided NU some positive press in a losing effort. For my nickel, time to quit being known as lovable losers in this effort…

    Give me a break… Winning a bowl is everything for this program… If the intrigue of that process creates television interest, more power to the media partners.

    • ende

      Pardon me, but I was replying to Eric Braeutigam on 11/22/11 at 4:50 am, but on my phone it came up here and I couldn’t reply under that subtext, so maybe you misunderstand me. I do agree that winning a bowl game is rather important if not one of the most important things for us as a program, but the point earlier in the thread was about whether or not it mattered how well NU played in bowl games against all the other opponents in the bowl games (usc, mizzou, etc.)–particularly when considering selection of NU for being in future bowls. With regard to that point, I don’t think it matters one hill of beans whether or not NU won or lost any bowl games. On the contrary, the performance and excitement of the games was important for the selection committee. From our standpoint, though, I agree that it is most important that we should win, but neither I nor you are part of the selection committee, unless you would like to tell me otherwise. :) Do you understand my point?

West Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Northwestern0000
Wisconsin0000
Minnesota0000
Nebraska0000
Purdue0000
Iowa0000
Illinois0000

East Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Indiana0000
Maryland0000
Michigan0000
Michigan State0000
Ohio State0000
Penn State0000
Rutgers0000