Watching the Bowl Watchers – Last Look Before the Real Thing

In just a few days, all of the guestimating, rules interpreting, and brain scrambling will be over. On Sunday, bowl matchups will be announced, and we will finally know the Wildcats’ warm weather destination.

Before we explore the guestimators’ guestimations, I wanted to highlight this piece from Teddy Greenstein on Wednesday. Apparently, the good folks at the Outback Bowl LOVE Northwestern, and based on Teddy’s story, it sounds unlikely the ‘Cats would drop below Outback. Also, Teddy reports that if Nebraska loses to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, odds are strong that the Capital One Bowl would select Northwestern over Nebraska. (In that situation, Michigan would not be eligible.)

On to the guestimators… We provided our own prognostication and rules secret decoder ring earlier this week, so instead of rehashing too much of that, we are going to jump right to the professional guestimators’ projections. Obviously, the biggest change to impact their projections was Wisconsin’s loss to Penn State last weekend, dropping the Badgers to 7-5. By rule, if they lose to Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game, neither the Capital One Bowl nor the Outback Bowl could select them over the Wildcats. Northwestern would have two more wins, and three fewer losses. Either of those would keep Cap One and Outback from plucking the Badgers before the Wildcats. That is how we interpret the rules, how the Big Ten explained the rules to us, how Adam Rittenberg at reported the rules to be, and how the Capital One Bowl confirmed the rules to be. More on this in a moment.

Most of the guestimators are projecting Outback Bowl for Northwestern. There are three outliers – Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel places the ‘Cats in his backyard, the Capital One Bowl against Georgia, a pick I’m told is “not insignificant.” is the only one of the group who picks Wisconsin to win the Big Ten Championship Game, leaving Nebraska on the open market, pushing Northwestern down a slot into the Gator Bowl. Phil Steele also projects NU to the Gator Bowl, but unless there has been an adjustment to the rules, it does not appear plausible. He has Nebraska winning the Big Ten Championship Game and the Outback Bowl selecting Wisconsin ahead of Northwestern. As we just explained, the Outback Bowl is not allowed to choose a 7-6 Wisconsin team with 9-3 Northwestern still on the board.

Now let’s take a complete look… This time, so that you have a full lay of the land, in addition to showing you the professional guestimators projection of the Wildcats’ destination, we are also including where they have the other relevant teams heading – Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Note that changes for Northwestern (or lack thereof) from last time are marked in parentheses.

Capital One Bowl, January 1, Orlando, FL

  • Matt Murschel/Orlando Sentinel, vs. Georgia (moved up from Gator Bowl)
    • Nebraska – Rose Bowl vs. Stanford
    • Michigan – Outback Bowl vs. LSU
    • Wisconsin – Gator Bowl vs. South Carolina

Outback Bowl, January 1, Tampa, FL

  • Jerry Palm/, vs.South Carolina (no change)
    • Nebraska – Rose Bowl vs. Stanford
    • Michigan – Capital One Bowl vs. Georgia
    • Wisconsin – Gator Bowl vs. Mississippi State
  • Stewart Mandel/, vs. South Carolina (was vs. Georgia)
    • Nebraska – Rose Bowl vs. Stanford
    • Michigan – Capital One Bowl vs. Georgia
    • Wisconsin – Gator Bowl vs. Mississippi State
  • Brad Edwards/, vs. South Carolina (moved up from Gator Bowl)
    • Nebraska – Rose Bowl vs. Stanford
    • Michigan – Capital One Bowl vs. Texas A & M
    • Wisconsin – Gator Bowl vs. Mississippi State
  • Mark Schlabach/, vs. South Carolina (moved up from Gator Bowl)
    • Nebraska – Rose Bowl vs. Stanford
    • Michigan – Capital One Bowl vs. Texas A & M
    • Wisconsin – Gator Bowl vs. Vanderbilt
  • Paul Myerberg & Erick Smith/USATODAY, vs. South Carolina (moved up from Gator Bowl) (Note: Myberberg and Smith combined their picks this week)
    • Nebraska – Rose Bowl vs. Stanford
    • Michigan – Capital One Bowl vs. Georgia
    • Wisconsin – Gator Bowl vs. Mississippi State

Gator Bowl, January 1, Jacksonville, FL

  •, vs. Mississippi State (moved down from Outback Bowl)
    • Wisconsin – Rose Bowl vs. Stanford
    • Nebraska – Capital One Bowl vs. Texas A & M
    • Michigan – Outback Bowl vs. South Carolina (interestingly enough, these guys flip flopped Michigan and Northwestern from last week’s projections; their pick of Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl is unchanged from last week)
  • Phil Steele, vs. Mississippi State (no change)
    • Nebraska – Rose Bowl vs. Stanford
    • Michigan – Capital One Bowl vs. Georgia
    • Wisconsin – Outback Bowl vs. South Carolina



  • HDB

    Bring on the DAWGS! Big Ten Network crew said that it was amazing that NU did not place more players on the All Big Ten Team given their 9-3 record. They agreed that the omission was due to a lack of respect for NU. Let’s take on the best in the SEC and show them that we are worthy of respect. GO CATS!

  • Mark

    Great stuff about college football – including the comment about anonymous men who write on blogs about 20 year olds.

  • Al

    I don’t see any difference whatsoever between the three Florida bowl games. Payout is no big deal, considering the Big Ten splits all bowl revenue, and they’re all the same as far as prestige goes. They’re all just another bowl game that’s not the Rose Bowl.

    • Richard

      I’d rather visit Orlando or Tampa than Jacksonville. The quality of the SEC opponent will be different as well. Expect the CapOne SEC team to be a beast.

      • JAG

        The quality of all the opponents are basically similar. We’ll be underdogs whoever we draw. But I cannot understand your city preferences. Tampa and Orlando are endless deserts of condominiums and retirees and Walmarts and Starbucks. Neither has a decent beach. Or a soul. Jacksonville, on the other hand, has great beaches, a local culture, Southern charm, and much, much better food…

        • Ende

          I dont know my friend. If you look at one indicator of quality of a travel destination try looking at the lodging. No comparison jax is small change and lower quality

          • Old Fat Bald Guy

            I lived in Florida for nine years. I’d say Tampa or Jacksonville is a big upgrade from Orlando.

        • Roger Stelle

          Wrong. Clearwater, St. Pete Beach – wonderful beaches in the Tampa area (although when we played Auburn several years ago, it was colder in Tampa than Chicago!). Also, Tampa has Ybor City and great Cuban food. The Friday night celebration prior to the Auburn game was fabulous with the Wildcat Marching Band parading down 7th Avenue playing NU anthems and fans everywhere. The best pregame celebration of any bowl I have been to including the Rose Bowl. Let’s go back to the Outback!

        • CatInTheHat

          I hate to pile on, but add me to the chorus protesting your views on Tampa. I lived there for six years and still go down several times per year, as my in-laws live in Tampa. Ybor City and Channelside are wonderful venues for eating, drinking, and celebrating, and the stadium is fantastic (I’m biased as a Bucs season ticket holder, but I’d put it up against any of the other potential venues and expect it to win out). I’d even say that there’s a splash of southern charm in Tampa.

        • NUinNY

          I just can’t agree that the quality is the same. Would we be an underdog against SC? Of course. but I can imagine worlds in which we win. We are not beating Alabama, Georgia, or A&M.

    • CMF

      I don’t see much difference in Outback vs Capital One as far as opponent and program visibility, but in my opinion there is a big difference playing in the Gator. Yes, we would probably play an easier opponent, but the game would be also be on ESPN2, a lesser channel vs. ABC or ESPN. Also, other than the 1st quarter of the game, the Outback and Cap One bowls will also be on at the same time on ESPN and ABC.

      If we are going to break our bowl streak, I want to do it where we have millions of eyes watching outside of the fans of the teams on the field. Let’s face it, if we play in the Gator against Miss St., we could very well break the bowl streak, but all the eyes are going to be on Nebraska vs. Georgia and Michigan vs. LSU at that same time.

      • Tom in SF

        You’re certainly right about the extra attention on game day. But the NU
        bowl curse is mentioned year-round. I’d go for a win wherever we can
        get it. (Well, not the Little Caesar Pizza Bowl — but The Gator would

  • JimB

    The myerberg/smith pick has both Northwestern and Wisconsin playing MS St. Not possible obviously. Who did they have us playing? Nice job laying all this out for us!!

    • Brett Kurland

      Sorry about that. Good catch. USATODAY has NU vs. South Carolina.

  • cece

    yeah Florida! bring it on, Cap One or Outback or Gator. Go ‘Cats!

  • HDB

    Information today is that there is growing support for Texas A&M in Cap One. They are new to SEC, have freshman star Johnny Football and most important have large fan base that would flock to Orlando $$$$$. If A&M selected, Georgia could be pushed down to Outback.

  • Palo Alto Cat

    Is there any way to read Teddy Greenstein’s piece without putchasing a Tribund subscription?

    • David

      Most of Teddy’s stories…including this one are linked to from his Twitter. So…Google Teddy Greenstein Twitter…the links from. His twitter bypass the sign in.

    • skepticat

      Disable your browser’s Javascript then reload the page.

  • I said it Thanksgiving week, I’ll say it again. My prediction since the MSU win has been ‘Cats vs South Carolina in Tampa. I think from a match-up standpoint this is best NU strengths and NU weakness match-up.

  • cece

    NU bowl people have sent out an email notice asking if folks want a charter flight to Tampa or Jacksonville. it’s a survey. no Arizona!

  • Alaskawildcat

    Interesting, only Stewart Mandel projects Oregon to the Rose Bow instead of Stanford. Isn’t Oregon ranked higher in the BCS and by Sagarin than Stanford?

    • Wildcats99

      Oregon can’t go to the Rose Bowl because they didn’t make the Pac12 Championship game by virtue of losing to Stanford.

    • Brett Kurland

      My bad. Stewart had picked Stanford. I had accidentally included last week’s Rose Bowl for Stewart. It is now fixed. Thank you for catching that.

  • Mark

    Re the Big Ten Championship game from a colleague: Nebraska has defeated a team twice in a season only three times in school history. In 1891, Nebraska and Doane College met three times, with the Huskers winning two of those games. In 1894, Nebraska defeated the Omaha YMCA twice, while Nebraska also defeated Nebraska Wesleyan twice in 1896. The Huskers beat Wisconsin 30-27 on Sept. 29 in Lincoln.
    So if you thought some Big Ten teams scheduled patsies – try playing the Omaha YMCA!