Northwestern returns to Polls at No. 22 in AP, No. 20 in Coach’s

It appears likely Northwestern’s impressive (and awesome) 50-14 win over Illinois will ensure there is a little number next to Northwestern’s name in the bowl game. The Associated Press has returned Northwestern to the polls, slotting NU at No. 22, while the Coach’s Poll has Northwestern at No. 20. The high Coach’s Poll ranking will surely mean the Wildcats will be ranked in this week’s BCS standings.

Northwestern sits four slots ahead of Michigan in this week’s Coach’s Poll perhaps signalling that Jim Phillips might be able to help Northwestern jump a bowl slot in the standings. Perhaps not.

The Orlando Sentinel projects Northwestern to play in the Capital One Bowl, but that possibility still seems unlikely (although Georgia appears destined for Orlando if the team were to lose to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game … Alabama would likely make the trip to Central Florida should Alabama lose next week in Atlanta). Barring any major upsets or bowl shifting, it appears Northwestern is likely headed to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, with still a slight possibility of the team headed to Jacksonville, Florida for the Gator Bowl.

Brett will have more on the bowl watch early on this week. Either way, plan on dressing warmly and getting a tan in Florida this New Year’s Day (provided the Mayans are not right… NU winning by 36 points should raise some suspicions that pigs will start flying).

Still, being ranked is a big deal for Northwestern and is a great reward of national recognition for what turned out to be a really special season. The only way to make it even more special would be to go out and defeat that SEC team and get the bowl monkey off the program’s back. That win would mean the first 10-win season since 1996 and it would mean Pat Fitzgerald becomes Northwestern’s all-time winningest coach.

The regular season may be over and the awards and accolades may be coming — the All-Big Ten teams get announced Monday and Venric Mark is likely to make an appearance on the first or second team — but there is still a lot of work to do.

Enjoy them now though!

  • DT

    Given the body of their work, NU deserves the rankings… Now, the trick is to be there on 1/15/13…

  • NU68

    Now starts the same discussion LTP has every year in which going to the best bowl against the best competitor is what is important … Whether NU is competitive or not is not to be consider relevant. This is such BS … Go to a bowl I which you have a chance to win. Can NU ask not to be invited or disinvite themselves to a bowl where they will be blown out … Or … Is that bad form?

    • chitown2424

      If we went undefeated would ask the BCS bowl not to pick us because who we might play!! We are in a bowl and I want to play the best team we can!! If we beat a Top team it will mean much more for the program! Just cause we haven’t won a bowl doesn’t mean we have to play a bad team cause we want to win a bowl! We have to stop thinking this way if we want to become a Top program!!

      • NUinNY

        Love the enthusiasm, man, but saying that we want to play a very good team (such as South Carolina) in a very good bowl (Outback) over a the third or fourth best team in the country (Georgia or Alabama) in a nominally better bowl (Cap One) is not remotely the same as people saying that we ought to be hoping to play poor competition in the Motor City Bowl or whatever. We are not one of the top five teams in the country this year, and if we play one of those teams, we are going to get crushed the same way Michigan did when they played Alabama. That would not be good for the program.

        The real thinking that needs to change is the outcomes we expect during the season as we try to put more and more talent on the field — I am always frustrated when people point out how much better we are than the worst of the B1G and implicitly assume that we cannot be better than this year’s Michigan or Nebraska teams (both of which we almost beat, which kind of proves the point).

      • Nu68

        Never said play a bad team … Play one we are competitive with … Do you really want to play a team like Georgia? It is a totally different level of play.

        • chitown2424

          Yes!! I want to Play Georgia because this is a good Test to where this program is going! You cant win at top levels if you don’t play Top Teams!! again if we went undefeated and played Alabama would you tell then NO because we don’t want to get our Ass Kicked!! If we win or keep it close it’s a Huge Boost for the Program!!

          • JimB

            get real dude! We did not go undefeated. The teams we recruit against point out our bowl loss record. We win we get POSITIVE media attentioin and take steps to overcome prior public perceptions. There is NO WAY repeat NO WAY we are at the level of ALABAMA or GA. We do not need to get beat by them to know that. Programs are advanced in steps, becoming .500 for a season, then stringing some .500 seasons together, making a bowl, then making a better bowl. WINNING a BOWL!! That is the next step for the program. This has been a fun successful season but without a bowl win the program has not been advanced.
            In a year with two teams not elibible for bowls from the B1G it is already going to be hard to get a good matchup. By good I mean I want a team that has a comparable record with a strong national reputation but one we have a realistic chance of beating. The entire goal of the season is to WIN the bowl game. It is the next hurdle in the program. For those of you who have not watched the program grow from the “oh gee I HOPE we can get to .500 next year and MAYBE someone will pick us for a bowl” years. Advancing the program is the key. You want to measure yourself against Alabama or GA schedule them during the year. Our program needs a bowl win so that everytime we play in a bowl the nation isn’t hearing about the longest bowl drought and changes the conversation to our recent successes.

          • Joe

            When did GA become this great team all of a sudden. They’ve played 2 ranked teams, and are 1-1 against them. We share one common opponent, which we both beat, though GA beat Vandy by a lot more. I’m of the mindset that “in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.” Though I’ll admit that a lot of my mindset comes from a wrestling background where the events that matter are all tournaments. Still, I think Fitz and the players would agree, we want to beat anyone we play, no matter what the name on the jersey. My other reason for playing the big boys is the recruiting bump we got after the Auburn game.

            At the end of the day, bowl games don’t matter, it’s just an exhibition. Take the extra weeks of practice to develop the young guys and play your ass off one final time. Win or lose that’s one thing I love about Fitz, his players fight every game. So I’m pumped to play an SEC team close to their home. Every SEC team this year has struggled against an “inferior” team at one point, and as Alabama showed, anyone can be beat. I’m sure glad our players are tougher than our fans! All this “won’t someone Please think of the program!” talk is silly. Show up ready to fight and we can beat anyone!

          • DT

            Well said and articulated, JimB… All the rah-rah types are out in force now ready to storm Omaha Beach given the last two victories, one against a team that was playing to get bowl eligible until the last quarter of its last game and the other, against what could be among the worst Big Ten teams fielded in the last 20 years…
            Moreover I think the brashness of youth and on that basis some honest exuberance comes as a result from many on this board. Nothing wrong with that, but I’m not sure how many have an earnest perspective on what say the 96 or 00 Cats taught us about what playing to the “top” of the Big Ten means in bowl games… In both cases, being overmatched and thrashed for the public to see by The Vols and Huskers, who were in the same type position say, LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, or possibly Florida are in 2012…
            Net/net, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather are great fighters at Welterweight… That said, they are no match for a GOOD heavyweight… So goes NU against those powers from the SEC….

          • PBRCat

            Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! Let’s prepare for whatever opponent that the Cats are matched against.

            I am partial to Tampa because that was one of the best bowl cities that I have visited.

          • DT

            Fair enough, old pal… Not much choice than to do what you suggest at this point..

          • NU68

            …. and if you loose by 50 points … is that a big boost to the program?
            You want to put the team in a game where they will be embarrassed on the hope and prayer that they pull off a miracle … foolish.

          • PBRCat

            Get real: Danny Hope won the last Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit (formerly known as the Motor City Bowl). Today he is unemployed despite his 2011 bowl victory and another bowl eligible Purdue team in 2012.

            Northwestern lost the 2003 Motor City Bowl to Bowling Green State by a score of 28-24. A chap named Ben who ended up starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers played against us in that game.

            Playing in a more prestigious bowl may be better for recruiting than going nowhere. How many people wanted to go to Shreveport for the Weedeater bowl? I am sure the competition was lighter there too.

          • chitown2424

            Even Coach Fitz doesn’t agree with you!!
            The Wildcats can expect to play a SEC opponent in whichever bowl gives them a berth.

            going to play a great team,” Fitzgerald said. “You guys aren’t going to
            give us a chance. We’re kind of cool with that. that’s just the way it
            goes. We’re going to play it on the road, I assume in Florida somwhere.
            We’ll play an SEC team in their back yard, we’ll be underdogs by like 75
            points. Nothing’s new in bowl season for us.

    • vaudvillain

      Being competitive isn’t our problem. We usually are, even against heavily favored opponents. We just need to win.

    • cebp

      wtf are you talking about. I’d rather play Florida in outback or Cap1 than play in some irrelevant bowl game.

      more exposure is better for recruiting and more high profile is good for NU. even if we lose, better to play a tough team to know hwat its like compared to some bum team. we COULD be 12-0 and going to B1G champ game. dont undervalue you bum!

      • Florida will be in the Sugar Bowl. I think it is pretty much locked in.

      • NU68

        “more exposure is better for recruiting”
        No … It isn’t … Not when the exposure shows a poor performance.. A mismatch and you look bad. Or … Maybe this comes under the idea that the only bad publicity is no publicity …

        • Jpklock

          I’m afraid I have to disagree with you, ’68: recruits are teenagers, and what teenagers know, with a certainty that we 20+ers can no long understand, is this: whatever situation a teenager has inherited, it is the teenager’s own awesomeness that will rule the day.

          In other words, recruits (in general) don’t care how long the bowl-win drought is, so long as they see the opportunity to play in a bowl, themselves. Because every teenager knows, if they get put in the position, they’ll win it, where their predecessors have failed.

          • DT

            OR, maybe a kid with below average to average math skills does a rudimentary evaluation of how long its been since 1949, and figures out NU last won while his Grandfather was his age… While I’d certainly not question your opinion or apparent expertise in Adolescent Psych, hearing a competing recruiter or talking head on any number of video platforms harping how NU keeps losing bowls, is certainly not going to help recruiting or perception, no matter how precocious the prosepctive student athlete..

          • NUmanager

            If a kid is weighing an NU education versus a bowl losing streak and comes out the other side with a decision that NU is not for him, then he is an idiot and wasn’t meant to come to NU. You are so over-blowing the losing streak when it comes to recruiting. It means much more to the fans than it does to kids and their parents. And yes I know because I work with kids making these decisions every day.

          • DT

            Manager, there are certain prospective student athletes that do indeed place a premium on the quality education NU no doubt provides. More power to them.. The highest rated recruit from this years Freshman class comes to mind. That said, you are truly naive or biased beyond objectivity thinking that most kids with options from various schools, particularly the likes of Stanford, Vandy, Duke or for that matter, Notre Dame, Michigan and dozens more of that ilk where a quality education and world class network exist– don’t look at the bigger picture including the fact, NU has not won a bowl in so many years and moreover, is 0-9 in most of their lifetimes. To say that a young man is an “idiot” for including that that as part of his criteria to use as tie breaker of sorts (particularly hearing it some much via multi-media platform the last few years) is arrogant and really idiotic in on its own merit… That said, you are right, NU does require a certain kind of kid and commitment that involves some risk as well, including the fact you might never win a bowl game as the Big Ten goes High Noon in three games on or around New Years Day, with SEC athletes who could give a hoot about NU, it graduation rate or academic spin.. All goes out the window when the pigskin goes up in the air…

          • NUmanager

            A bowl losing streak will never be a tie-breaker for any kid with a brain in his head. And if you don’t have a brain in your head, you can’t get into NU.
            The “# of hot girls” a kid sees on campus is about six slots above “bowl losing streak” on the recruiting check list.
            But got ahead and keep harping on some mythical group of kids (of which you don’t have a single real-world example) who decides against NU because of the streak.
            Seems to me you’re the one with the issue when it comes to the streak… maybe stop projecting?

          • DT

            Glad you mention the number of hot girls… That is indeed a real factor as well…

            While I certainly have an issue with a 60+ year losing streak or moreover an 0-9 record since 95, you my friend are in accute denial… And please, don’t call the prospective student athletes you might find yourself around idiots for whatever reasons including sighting concern about historic bowl performance futility to date.. They might have that in common with about 90% of the NU Fanbase, that should be of concern to you as well, champ..

          • jpklock

            Sure– I’m basing my analysis in part on things that our more highly-touted recruits have said, during recruiting time (several have gone on-record as saying that the bowl drought didn’t worry them, and that they intend to end it themselves). It is, understandably, harder to track what role the bowl drought has made in the decisions of prospects who choose to go elsewhere.

          • DT

            Fair enough..

      • Old Fat Bald Guy

        Gotta play the biggest bowl game you can get against the baddest competition they’ll let you have. Yes, Northwestern might lose again. Northwestern’s last five bowls have been non-embarrassing losses in exciting games. That’s not the worst reputation you can have. It’s better than the one you’d get if word got around that you considered some stages too big for your little old program.

        • PurpleRain

          You are right – losing to Nebraska by 49 points was great for the football program’s morale, improving fan interest in the team, boosting ticket sales, etc.

          I really enjoy hearing about that bowl loss whenever I get together with cornhuskers.

          Georgia, LSU, and A&M are buzzsaws. USC will be a major challenge, and there is no shame in wanting to play them and have a chance to win versus the others, with a sliver of a chance to win.

          The reason this program does not get respect is because it has not earned it from the broader population. Wining in the bowl season is a part of that process. We tried to do it quickly when we had the chance with Barnett, but lost to Keyshawn and then to Peyton. But nobody remembers the whys for those loses, particularly non-NU fans. They remember that we lost, have lost, and have a history of losing. We are repeating history when we “outkick our coverage.”

          Yes, it would be a dream to have the cinderella season, win the Rose Bowl, or the title game. But I would rather have the program build into a dependable one than hope for a dream season and have those hopes dashed year-in and year-out.

    • ende

      No way…I’m sorry but you have to go to the best bowl possible. Don’t undervalue the options available. a few weeks ago, people were suggesting to go to the Detroit Pizza Bowl just to be able to win. Give me a break. Yes winning is important for the bowl, but not to either A.) a crappy destination, B.) a crappy or lowly bowl offering, or C.) a game just to win. My apologies but this is old logic–we went to the outback bowl before, and jumped other teams to go, and we could have won that too, but I didn’t see anyone complaining we shouldn’t have gone.

      • zeek

        I don’t agree with this.

        Comparing Capitol One to Outback is like shaving hairs.

        You have to look at the competition, South Carolina is as prominent as Georgia, but you have significantly better odds of knocking off USC(e) (40%) as opposed to Georgia (10-20%).

        In terms of quality of the bowls, they’re extremely similar; I think you go with South Carolina.

        No one wants us to be put in the situation Michigan State was two years ago…

        • ende

          So you would wish us to go where then instead? I presume not either of those two, is that right?

          • zeek

            Outback for me; I think we can beat the SEC teams on that level.

          • Ende

            Thats where i hope we go too. It is a great top notch choice still.

          • PBRCat

            Tampa Bay was a good bowl destination city: NFL quality stadium, good amenities for tourists and options for New Year’s Eve and golf. Bigger profile game for the Wildcats too!

      • DT

        Give me a break… The last time NU went to that “crappy” Pizza Bowl we lost.. To a top 25 level MAC team… Old logic says win a fucking game at some level and then aspire to play a Top 10 program on a bigger stage.. BTW- this would be non-issue if Ohio State and Penn State were bowl eligible.. We be talking about the upside of the Buffalo Wild Wings bowl vs. Heart Of Dallas and Texas Bowl, where NU has been beaten by mid tier, under performing Big 12 teams the last two years…

  • If the Orlando Sentinel, the hometown newspaper, projects the Wildcats in the bowl game in Orlando … why, PRR, would you declare that prospect “unlikely”? Wouldn’t you kinda-sorta think they might know something? Seems to me it is eminently likely. If Nebraska knocks off Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, Northwestern, with a 9-3 overall record, would be the No. 2 (bowl-eligible) team in the Big Ten. And the Capital One Bowl is, as is well-known, for the No. 2 team in the Big Ten …

    • CM

      Even if Wisky knocks off Nebraska, I would say that the argument is still the same. Michigan vs. NU for the Cap One bid. Nebraska was there last year and I would venture to guess that the Cap One would like Michigan or NU a lot more than having to repeat with the Huskers…

      • Snevik

        If Wisky knocks off Nebraska, Michigan CAN’T go to the Cap One, because they are more than one loss away from the best available team (Nebraska). Cap One decides between NU and Michigan (Nebraska wins in Indy) or Nebraska and NU (if Wisky wins in Indy).

        • CM

          You mean to say “more than one WIN away” because it would be 10-3 vs 8-4. Regardless, that is actually not true. Per the Capital One Bowl, they CAN select Michigan in that scenario. They asked for clarification from the conference today.
          So, Nebraska WIN equals Michigan or NU for Cap One. Wisconsin WIN equals Michigan or NU (or Nebraska, but highly unlikely IMO).

          • Alaskawildcat

            This so called “clarification” undoes what was previously posted by the LTP bowl guru last week? If so something sounds fishy in Park Ridge.

        • Snevik

          Wait, I’m wrong, the Cap One people clarified: “We have received clarification from the Big Ten office: if Nebraska loses the B1G CG, Michigan may still mathematically be an option for us.”

    • Trust me, my life is easier if the Cats play in Cap One. The Sentinel’s projections are always a bit off. Was talking to some media friends in Orlando at the Magic game, they don’t seem to think Cap One would pass on Michigan. Can’t say I would blame them. Cap One is definitely still a possibility though.

      • CM

        Rittenberg and Bennett from ESPN agree. They feel Michigan is the pick for Cap One.

  • David

    At the end of the regular season as we discuss how this Wildcat team compares to other B10 teams, non-conference performance is part of the discussion. My sense was that NU was probably the only B10 team to defeat two bowl bound teams from BCS AQ conferences. To see if my memory was accurate, I have compiled the non-conference wins by all B10 teams…I have excluded FCS games. I have listed the teams in order of non-conference success in my opinion.

    NU- Vandy (8-4), Syracuse (7-5), BC (2-10)

    MSU- Boise St (9-2), CMU(6-6), EMU(2-10)

    OSU- Miami OH (4-8), UCF (9-3), Cal (3-9), UAB (3-9)

    Minny- UNLV (2-11), WMU (4-8), Syracuse (7-5)

    Wisky- Utah St (10-2), UTEP (3-9)

    UM- Air Force (6-6), UMASS (1-11)

    PSU- Navy (7-4), Temple (4-7)

    UNL- Southern Miss (0-12), Arkansas St (8-3)

    Iowa- NIU (11-1)

    Purdue- EMU (2-10), Marshall (5-7)

    IL- WMU (4-8)

    IND- UMASS (1-11)

    The entire B10 had 3 wins against AQ Bowl eligible opponents. NU defeated Vandy and Syracuse. Minny defeated Syracuse. MSU, Iowa and Wisky had wins against top 25 opponents BSU, NIU and Utah St.
    NU and MSU were the only teams to defeat two bowl eligible non-conference opponents.
    Any thoughts on comparative performance in the non-conference?

    • zeek

      The computers should agree with this kind of analysis.

      I think we’ll get a bit of a boost in the BCS; might be up into the high teens (18-19) range which would be terrific to have for the next 5 weeks.

      • zeek

        22 in the BCS; a bunch of the teams ahead of us still play, so might move up a bit.

        Nice to solidly be in the top 25 though heading into the next 5 weeks.

  • cece

    so, we’re going to Florida and will play on Jan. 1 now all we have to do is win a bowl game. what is the best way to try and do that? pick the opponent. and given the competition on the other side, hoping for a higher seed for us is not the way to go. choose wisely, Dr. Phillips.

  • Smolmania

    When does the decision come down as to where we go?

    • ende

      next sunday 2 december 2012

  • Wildcats99

    All you complainers should grow a backbone and be excited to play the best opponent possible in the best bowl possible!
    Here is what I think will Happen with Bowl Selection:

    *If Nebraska beats Wisconsin AND Georgia beats Alabama, then Capital One will pick Northwestern because they won’t want to rematch the season opener of Michigan v. Alabama (which was not competitive)

    *If Nebraska beats Wisconsin AND Alabama beats Georgia, it’s tough to call but Michigan might have a slight edge (although Cap One seems to really like NU)

    *If Wisconsin beats Nebraska we probably either get Capital One or Gator. In that Scenario, I see Nebraska as an unlikely Cap One choice since they played there last year. If Cap One picks the Cats then they do. If Cap One picks Michigan in this scenario, then I doubt Outback would skip Nebraska, likely leaving us with the Gator

    • byebyefitz95

      haha that is a gag!!! backbone haha.

    • Aaron

      The fact is NU struggled against some pretty mediocre teams this year in a conference that was…shall we say…less than impressive. I have been an NU fan since 1995 and I want to see them go to the best bowl they can win. That means playing against a team NOT in the top 18. Any NU fan who wants to see them play a Texas A&M is nuts.

      • Joe

        Well I’m nuts then. I doubt there’s a player or coach on the team that doesn’t want to line up against the best team out there. Any team can be beat in college football, these are kids on both sides. I wish some of our fans were a little more competitive! We just put out one of the best seasons in NU history, and everyone’s worried we’ll play someone too tough! Well guess what, we’re tough! And I’d put our group of young men up against any team in the country.

        • PurpleRain

          Creating a long-term program is not about the players or the coaches. It’s about building a *program*. That means some make sacrifices for the greater good and the future. How much momentum can a program have if it make it to bowl games and continues to lose? That is hard on the players and coaches, but more importantly, it is hard on the fans who are trying to get behind this program, many of whom are growing weary of swallowing a loss at the end of each season.

          • DT

            You make some great points, PurpleRain.. Well said, indeed…

      • zeek

        We don’t have a choice as far as that; we’re going to be playing a top 10 team unless Wisconsin beats Nebraska.

  • CMF

    Congrats to the Cats on a GREAT season! Regarding the bowl game, I have already stated my preferences in earlier posts, but the good thing is all of our Florida options have pros and cons (national exposure vs strength of opponent) – and ultimately – I don’t think we can go wrong either way. That said, I really think Wisconsin has a good shot at beating Nebraska. I will definitely be rooting for Nebraska, but the reality is Nebraska has lived on the edge all year. They could easily have lost to Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan St. and to some degree Penn St. Conversely, Wisconsin has lost 5 games this year, 3 were in OT and the other 2 losses were by 3 points. I really see this match-up as pretty even, so we can’t count out those Badgers yet. Again, I am rooting for Nebraska because I am in the camp of playing in a better bowl for better national exposure with the possibility of a slaying a bigger giant (even if that means the probability of losing is greater).

  • David

    Jerry Palm is projecting us at 20 in the BCS. Coaches have us at 20, Harris at 21, computer average 21. It is possible with a well placed loss or two next weekend…like BSU….we could spend the month of December ranked in the teens.

  • Noah

    22 in the BCS

  • HDB

    Purdue fired Hope today. AD says they want replacement coach to be offensive minded and keep in place Purdue type offense, i.e. spread with top quarterback. HMMM. I wonder if Mick will be in contacted.

    • DT

      Cliff Kingsbury…

  • Wildcats99

    For all you begging to play South Carolina in the Outback over Georgia in the Cap One, perhaps you aren’t aware that South Carolina beat Georgia 35-7 for it’s only loss on the season to date.

    • zeek

      That’s one game; it can happen to anyone; Georgia is the more complete team.

      They’re both incredibly tough challenges. All of the SEC opponents that we might face are top 10. They’re all terrific teams; some like LSU and South Carolina may have a few more weaknesses than others like Alabama or Georgia or Florida.

      • Cats83

        Agreed. Don’t forget that S.C. still had Marcus Lattimore for the Georgia game.

      • Wildcats99

        Last I checked a Bowl Game was just 1 Game too…

        Anyway, I agree with you that Alabama & Georgia might be marginally tougher teams than LSU or South Carolina, but the difference is not as big as you think. LSU had Alabama almost beat and as mentioned, South Carolina thrashed Georgia 35-7 (yes, with Lattimore).

        Anyway, I welcome playing the tougher team and I suspect the players do too. If we want to be the best we have to play the best!

    • NorCalCat

      You’re right that Georgia may not be any better than SC. In fact I wonder how good Georgia really is. They have one great win (Florida) and their only loss is to a good SC team. However, outside of that their schedule is very mediocre. Their next best win after FL is Vandy didn’t play any other good teams in the SEC. Somehow they avoided Alabama, LSU and A&M this year. And as with most SEC teams their non-con is a joke. So I’m not convinced Georgia is that great.

      My worry with Georgia is the matchup. They have probably the best passing QB in the SEC in Aaron Murray, which would be a problem against the weakness of our D, the secondary. Granted, the secondary played better against ILL and I don’t think they’re half bad with VanHoose back healthy, but I’d rather take my chances with a Lattimore-less SC or a bad QB LSU team than with Georgia.

  • nwildcat

    Hey, Cats in the BCS mix as well. #22? well, alright. Looks like LSU or the Gamecocks……Hmmm… I tend to value this team given their regular season wins. I had them going 1-2 over their last 3. Bye!

    • Wildcats99

      No, need to be ranked #14 or higher to be eligible for a BCS at large.

  • nwildcat

    Go Cats!

  • zeek

    ESPN bloggers projecting us in the Outback Bowl against LSU. That would be a really good outcome.

    • DT


    • cece

      purple vs. purple!

  • CMF

    Here’s my prediction on bowl selections based on the outcome of the B1G and SEC Championship games.

    1. Nebraska and Alabama win. Capital One: Michigan vs. Georgia. Outback: Northwestern vs. LSU. (Florida in Sugar, Texas A&M in Cotton)

    2. Nebraska and Georgia win. Capital One: Northwestern vs. Texas A&M. Outback: Michigan vs. LSU. (Florida in Sugar, Alabama in Cotton)

    3. Wisconsin and Alabama win. Capital One: Michigan vs. Georgia. Outback: Nebraska vs. LSU. Gator: Northwestern vs. South Carolina. (Florida in Sugar, Texas A&M in Cotton)

    4.Wisconsin and Georgia win. Capital One: Michigan vs. Texas A&M. Outback: Nebraska vs. LSU. Gator: Northwestern vs. South Carolina. (Florida in Sugar, Alabama in Cotton)

    • CMF

      You can ignore above. I forgot that if Nebraska loses the B1G Championship, Michigan can’t go to the Capital One bowl based on the fact that they would have 2 less wins than Nebraska (8 vs. 10). In that case – I think there’s a pretty good chance NU could end up in the Capital One since Nebraska played there last year and was destroyed 30-13 by South Carolina. My guess is that the Capital One committee would not want to pick Nebraska to come back a 2nd year in a row given they lost badly last year and they would be coming off a loss in the B1G championship – their fans won’t be excited to go back to Orlando given they have been prepping for Pasadena the past month. We could still jump Michigan if Nebraska loses, but I think those chances are much smaller and might be based on if there is a potential rematch of Alabama vs. Michigan. I would put the odds at the following:
      Outback: 50%
      Capital One: 45%
      Gator: 5%

  • Jimgocats93

    Let’s enjoy 9 -3.
    Let’s enjoy playing in a significant bowl.
    Let’s enjoy the rankings.
    I am getting a headache sorting scenarios – just look at the program names we are in a nice peer group in this discussion.

    Mr. Phillips have a busy and successful week. I will be in AZ for the holidays so anything works for me.


  • JM

    A lot of folks seem to be arguing for Philips to turn down invitations from better bowls in order to secure a more beatable opponent, saying a blowout loss would be bad for program perception. Folks, if word out –and it would– out that we dodged tough opponents to end our streak, that would be 1000 times worse than being blown out. Because (1) we’d be a mocked for being too timid for the big stage, and (2) the streak would figure prominently in every story about it and (3) if we did win a bowl game, every story about that would note that we had to deliberately play in a lesser game to do it.

    Our program has a great story about not taking shortcuts like everyone else. Let’s not sabotage it to end this streak.

    • Joe

      A lot of people subscribe to the “everybody gets a ribbon” mentality around here.

      • PurpleRain

        Guess what, a ribbon (if that is how to characterize a win against a top 15 USC), is a damnsite better than a punch in the neck, which is what we get in the Cap One bowl. Seriously, I love the Cats, but I got an education at NU, and as an educated man, I learned you don’t take a knife into a gunfight.

        Yes, a win against UGA, LSU, Bama, A&M would be great for the program, but I am tired of trying to draw the inside straight.

    • zeek

      How is it dodging an opponent to want to face LSU or South Carolina instead of Alabama?

      We’re talking about top 10 SEC squads; they’re all top 10 SEC squads; it’s a matter of which one we have a better shot at bringing down.

      • JM

        Your second sentence answers the question posed in your first.

    • CMF

      Agreed. We are going to play a top 10 SEC team and it will take a collective effort from coaches, players and fans to help pull off the upset regardless of the opponent. There are a lot of opinions on this and other NU blogs about Fitz, the staff, and players after blown losses – similar to what fans of big time programs would do. We can’t try and hold our players and coaches to the standards of a top 20 program if we are going to cower in the corner with the possibility of playing the likes of a Georgia, LSU, etc on a January 1 Bowl game in front of millions. I would be willing to bet that Phillips, Fitz, and the players WANT to play in the best bowl game against the best opponent. That is the mentality of a big time program and a winner. Looking the other way hoping to get passed over to play a lesser opponent sounds like something that Zook and Glen Mason would do. We need to embrace this opportunity – this is a chance to change national perception of this program on a big stage against a bigger program. There really is very little to lose and a lot to gain. Let’s do this! Go Cats!!

    • DT

      Really, this bowl situation NU finds itself in is not about Jim Phillips.. More power to Phillips trying to get the most favorable situation for NU being it for payout, logistics, whatever. Fact of the matter, NU is going to take one for the team, being the Big Ten Conference et al in what has been an abysmal year for The Ten… With two of the top four teams ineligible for post season play everybody moves up the bowl pecking order to fill the gaps. If the system worked the way it should within the conference, NU is looking at the upside of the Buffalo Wild Wing Bowl or a redux to correct recent losses at the Texas or Dallas Bowls. I think most objective fans here, would say given a legit top 25 performance to date, that tier bowl might indeed be winnable. That said, when the Ten potenitally has a 5 loss team in The Rose Bowl and this NU squad playing say LSU, Florida or Georgia in Dixie on New Years Day– safe to say, Park Ridge has a problem with post season… More a Diamond Jim Delany issue, than Dr. Phillips..

      • MySobriquetCat

        NU may be moving “up the bowl pecking order to fill the gaps” and that may come back to bite us on New Year’s Day. And, OSU and PSU are ineligible to go bowling and a 5-loss Wisconsin may just make it to the Rose Bowl. But I fail to see the logic that this is Jim Delany’s fault, or anyone else’s in Park Ridge.

        • DT

          It is a conference issue, thus problematic for Delany as commissioner when realignment, NCAA sanctions and penalties, and ambitious bowl contracts (ala the head to head with the SEC in their trade area no less…) combine to create this perfect storm of sorts the Big Ten finds itself in… Further for all the exposure and subsequent revenue for members– Delany and Fox have created with BTN, the on field football product and subsequent video content has eroded in quality as well compared to conferences it sees as equals. To my way of thinking, on that basis, Park Ridge, the conference wags and the commish himself, have or have created a problem… Maybe you see it as bad luck? Fair enough…

    • cece

      so tired of the fear what is read on this blog mentality.

  • NUmanager

    From the “just saying” department… we were not as strong a team in 2009 and we came up a yard short of Auburn. Yes Auburn picked up Mr Cam Newton in 2010, but they also returned 15 starters from 2009 and won the national title the following year. Looking back at that 2009 Auburn team, they also nearly beat #2 Alabama in their regular season finale. They would go on in 2010 to hold LSU, South Carolina and Oregon all UNDER 20pts in 2010. Last I checked Cam Newton didn’t play defense.

    We’ve been competitive in every game this year to the point of having 4th quarter leads every week. I think this team deserves more credit. I’m more worried about our ability to run our “vaunted” read-option against an SEC defense, which is why I’ve been begging for TS to get more snaps down the stretch.

    • zeek

      That’s a good point; it’ll be interesting to see what we do in the bowl game as far as adjustments go.

      LSU made no adjustments last year in the BCS title game against Alabama, and their running game was totally shut down.

      We’ll have to have a backup plan ready if we can’t run the ball; Siemian may have to win the game for us if we can’t move the ball on the ground.

      FWIW though, this will be the best opponent we’ve faced in a bowl game since Nebraska in Alamo.

    • PurpleRain

      How about this from the “just saying” department. What have we garnered as a result of that loss to Auburn? Yes, Auburn won the title the next year, and where are they now? We need to build a program that can sustain itself, and you do that with incremental progress, not trying to shortcut your way to the next level. Playing in the Cap One Bowl when we should be in a lower tier bowl (without suspended programs) is a great opportunity, but that is a double-edged sword.

      • NUmanager

        What we got was national exposure and respect. I had friends and family who don’t watch NU calling me out of the blue from around the country after that game to talk about how incredible it was.

        And don’t think Fitz doesn’t trot out Kafka slinging it 75 times against Auburn when trying to recruit offensive talent from Texas, FLA and CA to come to Chicago. There is a ton of peripheral value that far exceeds a win in a bowl game that no one was watching. That’s the benefit of playing New Years Day.

        • PurpleRain

          I wonder if your friends and family felt the same way when they saw the #3 NU-#17 USC Rose Bowl. The next year we lost by 20 to #9 UT (we were #11), then waited 4 years to go to another bowl game, only to get smeared by 49 by #9 Neb (we were #18). We wait three years to go to another bowl, only to lose to #23 Bowling Green (we were unranked).

          The national exposure and respect we earned from a far more impressive run in 95-96 produced zilch for us for most of the years immediately following.

          I am thrilled we have been to four bowl games in a row. But it is now time to win one. Unfortunately this year we are going to be a double-digit underdog, so we have our work cut our for us.

  • Gocatsteve

    Is anyone worried that, if Wisconsin beats Nebraska, we may be pushed to the Buffalo Wild Wing Bowl? In his article today, Teddy Greenstein mentions that as a possibility. Granted, we’re three games up on Sparty, but Greenstein says that the Gator Bowl likes big-name schools and may take Sparty over little ‘ole us. I want to root for Wisconsin this weekend (because I hate the Huskers), but I don’t want to miss out on a New Year’s Day bowl. Somebody, please calm my fears…

    • DT

      Moreover, would say volumes about the Big Ten in 2012 sending a 5 loss team to the Rose Bowl… Fitting tribute to an abysmal season for a conference more intent on media money than a quality product…

  • Indylib

    We are so inconsistent that we can beat anyone and lose to anyone. We should take the best bowl game possible because us winning against anyone is a crap shoot. Lets roll the dice! Trying to angle for a preferred matchup is a wasted effort on the Cardiac Cats.

  • Nate

    Reading some of the bowl scenario banter brings a smile to my face. Just thinking about how far the NU football program has grown since Fitz took over in ’06 is remarkable. Now I know, not having Ohio St. (not counting Penn St. b/c they’re out of the conversation for 4 more years) in the bowl discussion skews things a bit and raises NU’s bowl prestige one level, but still, think about it: we’re arguing about playing in 3 notable Jan. 1 bowls against top 10 competition, how cool is that?!?

    On another note, I’ve been hearing today that Northern Illinois (21st in the BCS) has a shot at playing in the ORANGE BOWL if they win the MAC title game, and having Texas lose to K-State, and UCLA lose to Stanford, putting the Huskies in the top 16 in the BCS and eligible for an at-large BCS bid…as much as it pains me to potentially see 2 local programs make the BCS without NU, I am rooting for NIU to make it, what a great story it would be…and in the end, coach Dave Doeren will be highly sought-after, especially in West Lafayette, IN.

  • Henry in CT

    Now that we’ve got our wish we’re wondering what are we going to do now? The only way to beat one of those tough SEC teams is to outscore them which means we’re going to have to put up some points because we’re not going to be able to hold them down. It will be like Nebraska and Penn St. only worse. The only way to score enough points is through the air and the only way to do that is with Siemian throwing and Colter catching. Which is why I was hoping we would give the air game some practice against Illinois instead of being content to run all over them with Colter and Mark. Teams like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU will stuff Colter and Mark. All is not lost if we can go to the air game with Siemian. I just hope the coaches get it.

  • Ron

    Interesting debate. I’m not sure where people got the idea that Northwestern should or would turn down any bowl invite. Sounds a bit red herring-ish. But what does seem to have been well-documented in the past are AD Phillips’ efforts to sell NU into a bowl above its slot. This has happened repeatedly, and never with good results.

    This year, it bears repeating that NU is 5-3, good for the 5th best record in the conference. In a normal year, Ohio St would be headed for the National Championship Game and Nebraska (probably) to the Rose Bowl. Penn State would likely be headed to Cap One, unless Wisconsin beats Nebraska next week- then Nebraska is in the Cap One and everyone is bumped down a notch.

    Thus in a normal year, NU would be “slotted” for Gator, probably, with the outside chance of Phillips overselling us past Michigan and into the Outback. I realize that this is not a normal year, and the Gator is very likely not an option. But our body of work does not warrant an appearance in the Capital One, either.

    For once, I’d like to see how we’d do in the matchup for which we were intended, based on our slot, without Phillips – regardless of his reasons – pushing us into a matchup in which we do not fit.

    • Ron

      (ignore that bit about Wiscosin; in a normal year, OSU plays UNL in the title game, and likely both go to the BCS in some capacity).