Northwestern made it official a few hours ago – the Wildcats announced via Twitter that they have accepted a bid to the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl.
— Northwestern Sports (@NU_Sports) December 2, 2012
A few moments ago, Mississippi State’s athletic director made their appearance in the Gator Bowl official.
— Scott Stricklin (@stricklinMSU) December 2, 2012
Then, the Gator Bowl released their “official tweet”…
yfrog.com/odajiltbjit’s official, Miss State vs Northwestern!
— Gator Bowl (@Gator_Bowl) December 2, 2012
So it’s going to be Northwestern vs. Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl at noon ET on ESPN2.
It turns out 70-31 didn’t matter a whole lot when it came to the Capital One Bowl’s decision. Earlier in the day, the Capital One Bowl announced Nebraska is heading to Orlando, with the Outback Bowl announcing they chose Michigan. It also appears that the conference office had something to do with Nebraska’s return to Orlando for a second straight year.
Hearing the Big Ten, SEC leadership didn’t want Nebraska and Georgia to fall too far after league title game losses. — Rittenberg/Bennett (@ESPN_BigTen) December 2, 2012
Looks like SEC and Big Ten offices got involved to protect champ game losers — Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) December 2, 2012
My instant reaction – if that’s indeed the belief of the Big Ten and SEC, then it should be written into the rules that their respective conference championship game losers shouldn’t drop below Capital One Bowl. (In the Big Ten, rules currently state B1G Championship Game loser shouldn’t drop below bowl pick #4, which, this year is the Gator Bowl.) Otherwise, if ever there was a reason for a conference championship game loser to drop, 70-31 would be it.
And forget the Johnny Football to Cap One Bowl reports. The Capital One Bowl just tweeted their official announcement that it will be Georgia coming to town to battle Nebraska.
Georgia (11-2, 7-1 SEC) and Nebraska (10-3, 6-1 Big Ten) to meet in Capital One Bowl: ow.ly/fL0hd
— Capital One Bowl (@CapitalOneBowl) December 2, 2012
Interesting SEC side note – ESPN had indeed reported earlier this afternoon that Northwestern would take on Mississippi State and Nebraska’s opponent would be Georgia, with Texas A & M going to the Cotton Bowl. However, for a little while, it sounded like things were up in the air and getting messy, according to Garry Smits of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. (Note that the text below has since been replaced on the Times-Unions website with the most current information.)
The SEC pick was on hold as of 2 p.m. Sunday because of an ongoing dispute between the Cotton Bowl and Texas A&M. The Cotton Bowl wants to match the Aggies (10-2) against Texas but A&M officials believe it’s too soon, one year after leaving the Big 12, to play a game against a historic rival that had to be dropped when A&M went to the SEC.
The Cotton Bowl gets the first pick of an SEC West team and could take LSU. The Capital One is considering inviting SEC Championship game loser Georgia, and the Outback could take either A&M, LSU or South Carolina.
The Gator cannot make its SEC pick until after the Cotton, Capital One, Outback and Chick-Fil-A bowls.
NIU making the BCS (and yes, that does stick in my craw that a team from the northern portion of our state is to the BCS, and it’s not NU) probably cleared that up. It bumped Oklahoma out of the BCS, which put Oklahoma into the Cotton Bowl against the Aggies and prevented the awkwardness of Texas-Texas A & M.
Bottom line… we can finally put all of the bowl guesstimating and tea leaf reading behind us, and look ahead to the actual game that Northwestern will be playing – the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl against Mississippi State on New Year’s Day. The Wildcats will go for win number 10 for the first time since the dream season of 1995, and in the process try to break that epic bowl win drought and make Pat Fitzgerald the winningest coach in Northwestern history, all in one of college football’s oldest bowl games against a struggling SEC opponent who once was ranked as high as No. 11 in the BCS this season.
Lots to be excited about, and plenty of coverage from all angles right here at Lake The Posts for the next month.
T-minus 31 days until game day!