BREAKING – Northwestern accepts bid to Gator Bowl, will play Mississippi State

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.

A few moments ago, Mississippi State’s athletic director made their appearance in the Gator Bowl official.

Then, the Gator Bowl released their “official tweet”…

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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.

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.

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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.

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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!

  • GoU_NU

    This is why I didn’t believe people who said they had sources that Cap One would take us over Nebraska if they were to lose. And whoever thinks the Outback would take NU over a Michigan team that hasn’t been there since 2003 is crazy. This is unfortunate. Nebraska really effed our season.

    • zeek

      Um, Big Ten and SEC stepped in to prevent that game from picking Texas A&M (and likely us)…

      They didn’t want their CCG losers falling…

  • Mark

    Seems like some of you forget that NU got beat by both Nebraska and Michigan and that in the Big Ten division standings the Cats were behind both. Hope springs eternal but the records are on the side of Nebraska and Michigan. I am not projecting who will be announced in the bowls – just reacting to the comments here.

    • zeek

      We’re talking about bowls; they don’t pick based on record; they pick based on momentum and the like…

      If the Big Ten and SEC offices step in to choose who’s playing where, then that is what it is.

      • Mark

        I don’t think I was clear – I just didn’t agree with all the speculation about the Cats getting the best bowl. But I think you may be overestimating “momentum.” Or think about momentum in the sense of the Cats losing to the three best teams they played. Momentum may play a little bit in the basketball tournament or when two teams are similarly situated that didn’t play each other. But it made no sense to me that people on this blog were saying that the Cats would get the best and most difficult bowl ahead of two teams that beat them.

    • Snevik

      No bowl picks on conference record. They pick by overall record; it’s in the contract. That’s why Michigan is not in the Capital One Bowl.

  • David

    It will be what is going to be…Gator bowl certainly increases odds for 10th win.

    • zeek

      Doesn’t just increase odds; this is a MUST WIN now.

      No excuses for not winning that 10th game now. I don’t want to hear that we’re 75 underpoint underdogs or crap like that.

      This is a must win game now. If we can’t beat Miss. State in a bowl game, then our coaches deserve as much flak as Pelini is getting in Nebraska.

      • DT

        Agreed…

  • CatInTheHat

    So our own conference BLOCKS us from the bowl that may very well have wanted us? After years of trying to build perception that our fans can travel to any bowl in the country? I’m sorry, I know this is a family blog, but this is utter and complete bullshit!

    • http://twitter.com/RiseNU Philip R-R

      Not going to disagree. What can we do but change perceptions by showing up in force in Jacksonville and winning?

      • CatInTheHat

        Absolutely!! Hate the process that led us here but love the matchup. I think we win this game, and I’ll be there to see it. Would love to end The Drought against and SEC foe on 1/1!

      • DC Cats

        I’ll be showing up and the Cats are going to win. That said, there won’t be much of a change in perceptions if no one watches our bowl game.

        • zeek

          DC Cats

          I don’t agree with that. You guys aren’t thinking big picture here.

          If we end this season ranked top 15; we start next season ranked for sure considering how many players we’re returning.

          That would be a huge boost for us. It means people talk about us for months before next season…

          • DC Cats

            I agree completely about the outcome of winning our bowl game paying dividends and helping our image as a program. At the same time, I think that simply playing in this particular bowl won’t do much regarding perceptions since relatively few CFB fans will watch it or care about the outcome. The CapOne Bowl would have been much more helpful in that regard, and unlike some posters here, I think the Cats can hang with anyone in the nation this year when they’re at their best.

            Make no mistake — I am very happy for the opportunity to go bowling, and will cheer as loudly as anyone in the stadium on January 1. I’m just frustrated about the conference leaders seemingly working to keep the ‘traditional powers’ at the top of the pile, when there’s evidence that someone like the CapOne Bowl would have liked to select a 9-3 Northwestern team that has led in every game it played this season.

          • Richard

            I’m sure the Cats appreciate the support, but a secondary that makes pedestrian QB’s look like superstars isn’t going to be able to “hang with anyone”, much less a national title contender.

          • Jpklock

            I think you’re over-stating things, in that I think our secondary has had moments of both awful and brilliant play (including four consecutive PBUs to put away Michigan State on their last possession).

            A few things to remember are that nobody on the Internet really knows what led to the bowl decisions. We’ve drawn what we’ve drawn, and if we wanted a better bowl, we should have made a couple more plays, and beaten Nebraska and Michigan (and then Wisconsin…)

            Let’s kick the stuffing out of Mississippi State– I’ve just started researching, and I think we should expect to go into this game as significant favorites– and then spend the spring and summer talking loudly and often about rankings.

          • Ahmed

            I concur, we are too close to the picture to realize the deficiencies in our secondary. I think that was our only weakness this year. If we get a talent upgrade there next year, we should be strong contender for the B1G championship game.

    • zeek

      A win here would pay huge dividends for the next year…; high ranking to end the season, 10 wins.

      Lot’s of long-term positives by just going and getting a win here.

      • CatInTheHat

        Agree completely! I love this matchup for us. I’m frustrated with our conference but think this is actually a best case scenario from an X’s and O’s standpoint.

      • rb

        Not to mention breaking the bowl curse and getting Fitz to the most wins of any NU coach

      • Musicman495

        Happy because this is a winnable matchup, and I have family in the area. Lookout Jax. Just win the d$mn game.

    • PBRCat

      This is an embarassment. Pure and simple.

      #$^&%*#$$$ Jim Delany and the horse he rode in on! Why not ask Northwestern to play in Detroit to maintain a smooth working relationship with the sponsors of the Pizza Bowl. Jacksonville is a less desirable location and the commissioner felt it was necessary to “protect” two preeminent programs by dissing Northwestern?! Northwestern is a charter member of the conference, Nebraska has not even been a member for five years in total.
      The Cornhuskers and the Wolverines are both coming off of big losses.
      The disgrace began when Delany the Cowardly Commissioner did not temporarily realign the two divisions to adjust for the suspension of the Ohio State Tattoos and the Penn State Pedophiles for the 2012 season. As of a few weeks ago, it was possible that the Indiana Whoosits were going to be in the running for Pasadena. It was a farce. Had Wisconsin been in our division, they would have finished in fourth place during the regular conference season.
      Northwestern suffers the brunt of Delany’s decision to “protect” a Nebraska team after its epic fail and promote Michigan over a team with a better overall record. Does anyone believe that the Capitol One Bowl will feature a stadium with empty seats? The B1G Conference Title game was not even close to selling out.
      This stinks! If the bowl representatives had made the decision, I could live with it, but the B1G Commissioner lobbying against Northwestern sucks!
      I wish that all of the Cats’ season ticketholders would hold a protest rally outside of the conference offices on Higgins Road in Park Ridge.

  • Pittsburgh Wildcat

    I’m 100% great with Gator Bowl. Jan 1. Legit/respectable bowl game. Good TV slot (noon eastern on ESPN2). Beatable SEC opponent. A heckuva lot of good things that can happen if we win. Go Cats.

    • zeek

      Agreed; we should focus on getting that 10th win (Fitz’s 50th) along with a high ranking to end the year and a high preseason ranking next year.

      Tons of big stuff on the line, and a lot of is much more gettable. We should beat Miss. State.

  • zeek

    Miss. State has lost 4 of its last 5 with its only win in that period coming against Arkansas.

    The rest of their wins are against bad teams: Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee and the typical 4 non-conference patsies.

    This program has no excuses if we can’t beat them. Their wins are worse than ours…

    • Pittsburgh Wildcat

      Or another way to put it: all 4 of Miss State’s wins over BCS conference teams came against teams so bad that all 4 have fired their coaches.

      • zeek

        Yep. That’s a great way of putting it.

        No excuses for losing to a team that hasn’t played well against anyone with a pulse.

      • calling all toasters

        That’s the fun fact of the day!
        …but if they beat us Fitz stays, dammit.

    • chartmoose

      “This program has no excuses if we can’t beat them” — that is hyperbole! Way over the top…

      I agree that we should be favored, but we aren’t favored by that much.
      Using the “scientific method” (the Jeff Sagarin ratings), Northwestern is favored BY 1 POINT on a neutral field when playing against Mississippi State…
      Again, using the “predictor” from Sagarin, we are the 38th best team in the country & we would be playing the 40th best team in the country. (If you just pay attention to the “Elo” rating which factors in only wins & losses & not the final score, then we are the 27th best team in the country playing the 35th best team in the country.)

      Yes, this is a winnable game & a game where we should be favored. (Mississippi State isn’t as good as Vanderbilt, and we already beat Vanderbilt…)

      But statistically speaking, we have every reason to expect a close game.

      Let’s win this thing. But PLEASE let’s not overreact to this — either in advance or after the fact…

      • zeek

        Every BCS team that lost to them fired their coach.

        There’s your perspective.

        • skepticat

          Tsk, tsk. I see what you’re doing there, but correlation isn’t causation.

          But I can only imagine the number of malcontents climbing onto the ledge following a triple disappointment of 1) not getting a better bowl, 2) finishing the season 9-4, 3) Fitz keeping his job.

          Then again, the comments section might suddenly become a much more pleasant place.

          • zeek

            All I’m saying is, we’ve had legitimate reasons for not winning previous bowl games (we were underdogs in every one that we’ve lost).

            We should be the favorite this time…; we should expect to actually win this time.

      • SocalScott

        Well said. I certainly will be disappointed if we don’t show up, but I would hardly call this a “do or die,” must win for Fitz! This game could come down to a strange bounce or missed call. For example, every NU football fan knows Brian Muzzo was down, but unfortunately that bounce and call cost us a Rose Bowl win 1/1/96. Strange stuff happens. But having said that, NU should be favored, and I think the Cats will prevail. Go Cats!

        • DT

          “The race may not be to the swift, nor the victory to the strong, but that’s how you bet”- Damon Runyon
          While Musso was certainly down, the problem with the 96 Rose Bowl game for NU was the fact that Keyshawn Johnson was not down enough… Still pains me to think of Johnson making the catch and running straight at us into our endzone seats with Collier losing ground by the stride after Hudi stumbled… Great game, but to much SC speed and NFL talent in the form of one Keyshawn Johnson… Speed not bad luck cost NU the Rose Bowl..

          • SocalScott

            Yes, I was there too. 3rd and forever, and then first down Keyshawn was a nightmare of mine for weeks afterward. But also recall NU fell behind 24-7 on that call. Too large a whole to climb out of. Despite Keyshawn, Cats outscored Trojans 25-17 after that play. Without that USC gift touchdown, a different game.

            And speaking of speed, we landed some this weekend. Go Cats!

            http://southtownstar.suntimes.com/sports/16722125-419/lincoln-way-east-quarterback-tom-fuessel-visiting-northwestern.html

          • DT

            Really, was a version of the same type thing the next year in Orlando.. NU gets down 21-0 I think it was, fights back to tie the game, and gets finished off by the likes of Joey Kent, Peerless Price and company that our DB’s had no chance against with passes from Manning.. While I’ll give you, the Musso play might have changed that flow of a great and historic Rose Bowl– we had no answer for Otten/Johnson that day nor Peyton and Company the next year… A disturbing pattern in bowl games that exists to this day to a large extent..

          • David

            Darnell had the flu that game…didn’t we throw 3 picks in that game.

          • Indylib

            Darnell had the flu and wasn’t going to play. But Adrian Autry (Darnell’s backup) pulled his quad in the warmups and couldn’t play. They thought about starting a redshirt freshman, but went with Darnell instead. That said, Peyton schooled our defense on a few plays…

          • DT

            Darnell had a great game and really, gave a performance worthy of comparision to Michael Jordan against Utah… That said, they had NO answer for Manning and those Wide Outs. Some say if Ismaeli would have played, could have been different. Personally, watching that game, I doubt it– albeit they exploited Gerald Conaway something fierce…

      • Musicman495

        MSU actually has opened as a 2 point favorite. Don’t ask me.

        • David

          NU is 11-1 against the spread …so this is good news

    • cece

      we may not play them, right?

    • aaron

      Couldn’t agree more. I think NU should watch the WI tape and note their approach to destroying NE. WI threw them curve-ball after curve-ball with their wildcat offense and standing defensive linemen. NU should get a little creative and show MS different looks. We have such a diverse offense already but frankly our defense could use some new ideas.

  • GoU_NU

    Why is everyone okay with us going to Gator Bowl because Michigan and Neb were ahead in the standings? The Neb game was essentially a push despite their win, and everyone knows we beat Michigan minus that fluke play. Don’t settle, fight for the best. I don’t have any problem saying we deserve the Capital One Bowl. And no, noon ET on NYD is NOT a great TV slot when the Outback starts at the same time and gets run over by the Capital One kickoff mere hour(s) later!

    • Richard

      I think everybody’s fine with not being pasted by Georgia.

      Be careful what you wish for.

    • CatInTheHat

      Right. Frankly I’m happy we’re playing a beatable opponent in a legit Jan 1 bowl, and I get the arguments that we had no claim to Cap One or Outback based on losing to Neb and Mich, BUT, I also don’t get why the so called rules only seem to apply when NU is in the discussion, but the Michigan States of the world never seem to have to play by those rules.

    • Old Fat Bald Guy

      Being ahead in the standings is kind of the point of the season. You either win the game or you lose the game. Northwestern lost to Michigan and Nebraska, and consequently finished third in the division. “Essentially a push” and “minus that fluke play” are not serious arguments. Close is close. It’s not winning. And by the way, two of Michigan’s four losses were to the teams that are in the national championship game, and a third was to the best team in the Big Ten. Northwestern didn’t play any of those teams. I’m just being realistic. Our team is in the bowl it should be in.

    • Jpklock

      “Basically a push” and “minus that fluke play” simply don’t cut it. Yes, they were both exceptionally close games, but (in the reality-based perspective) we *did not win them*.

      The top two B1G picks (with the Rose Bowl being compulsory) went to the teams that *did* win those games. Gotta win the games, to get the top picks, is all I’m saying.

  • David

    We did not get screwed. Any of the FL bowls would have been appropriate for us. Now we need to Win. We can’t come up short.

  • NJcatsfan

    If this is how it goes down, I’m 100% fine with it & will be there with bells on. At 9-3, and having lost to Neb and UM, this is where NU should be. Jan 1, Florida, vs SEC in a “name” bowl…with a decent shot at the W. I’ll gladly take it.

  • cece

    will follow the ‘Cats anywhere. Florida is easily accessible for our fans by plane, car and train. east coast alums, get into action!!!!

    • DT

      I’m following them on my big screen until they prove they can win a bowl game against whomever/wherever… Drank the Koolaid and shelled out the bucks in Orlando and San Antonio 97 and 00… Enough said..
      Just win baby… Period..

      • cece

        you will be missed! you are a great fan.

        • DT

          Thanks, C– Appreciated..

        • DT

          Thanks, C….

      • Polymersci

        DT, we will have a cold one for you in JAX. I’ve been to every bowl but Detroit, so why stop now when we can actually win one! Too many NU degrees in our family, so gotta support the Cats.
        Go Cats!

        • DT

          Poly-
          Probably, I’ll be having A VERY COLD one for you in Chicago!
          Get us a win…
          Go Cats–
          DT

    • zeek

      I’ll be there; mainly because I live in Florida so it’s always an easy trip when they come here.

      Just hoping to see a win.

  • cs93

    The Capital One Bowl’s web site says that Nebraska will play in its bowl game against a yet-to-be-named SEC opponent. So these reports look like they are correct.

  • CM

    I hope Jim Delany gets coal in his stocking this Christmas. Blocking one of your conference’s teams to protect the loser of a 70-31 shellacking??? You’ve gotta be kidding me. I would understand it was the 6-6 over 9-3 debacle last year…but this is 10-3 vs. 9-3. The Outback is a lovely place. But apparently Delany didn’t want to subject the dearly beloved Huskers to that bowl

  • cs93

    Like it or not, this makes sense. Nebraska won the division. Michigan finished second. Both beat NU. If guys made a couple of plays down the stretch (and the coaches called a better game in the 4th quarter) in those games, than we would have more of a beef. Hey, we got a Jan 1 bowl game. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Now let’ win this bowl game!

    • SocalScott

      I totally agree! Congrats to the team. And please; no more complaining…if we beat Mich, or closed out against Penn State OR Nebraska, it would be a different story. We have no basis to complain about being picked behind teams we LOST to. Looking forward to Jan 1.

      • zeek

        It’s also about program building.

        The people saying that “no one will watch” or “no one will care”, should realize that every time the end of season standings are mentioned, we’ll be there.

        Also, if we win and end up getting a solid top 25 preseason ranking next year; that’d be a huge victory. That means we’d get a lot of preseason hype. People would circle us on the calendar against Ohio State among other things.

        We need to think big picture here. This is a big program building opportunity…

        • CatInTheHat

          Want more fuel? Look what ESPN has to say about our bowl! And THEY ARE FREAKING BROADCASTING IT!!!

          “The Wildcats (9-3) and Bulldogs (8-4) accepted invitations Sunday, giving the bowl a less-than-marquee matchup. The Gator Bowl pitted Florida and Ohio State last season, an intriguing matchup that featured Urban Meyer’s former team against his future team. Sure, Northwestern is playing on New Year’s Day for the third time in four years. But the Wildcats aren’t known for filling stadiums.”

          I am freaking livid. I don’t even know what to say about what went down today. First, our own conference BANS us from the bowl we should be in as the LEGIT SECOND PLACE TEAM IN THE BIG TEN, and then ESPN tells people not to bother watching the Cats, because we are “less than marquee.” I am freaking livid.

          • zeek

            Yep, I agree 100%. It’s just sad to see that.

            We just have to buckle down and force them to respect us. Only way to do that is to win games like this.

            Also that “marquee” matchup from last year was between two 6-6 teams…

          • Musicman495

            I looked it up and story was not written by ESPN. It was actually written by some loser AP reporter named Mark Long who is based on Jacksonville, no doubt griping about having to cover two teams he does not want to cover. I already tweeted him adn told him to sit on it.

          • SocalScott

            Ha Ha…he thinks the Gator got a bad match up? The Orange Bowl got a MAC team that lost to Iowa! NIU in BCS…give me a break.

          • CatInTheHat

            Good work! I just hope we walk in there with 20 or 25,000 in purple and watch our team end The Drought. That would eviscerate the bad taste that we have over treatment of the ‘Cats and turn this into a very special season. At the end of the day, I really do like this matchup, and it’s certainly better than being the sacrificial lamb to Georgia in Orlando would have been. I’m just less than enthused about the process that got us here.

          • Old Fat Bald Guy

            Second-place team in the Big Ten? Where are you getting those standings? The standings I found have them third in their division.

          • CatInTheHat

            I was using a little bit of poetic license and going by overall record alone, which is what the bowls have to select on, just to illustrate how absurd it was that we were banned from Cap One by our own conference.

          • vaudvillain

            Best way to convince folks that we’re a marquee team is to win our marquee games. Don’t get me wrong, the diss pisses me off, too. But let’s face it — we can’t argue our way into national respect. We have to earn it by winning on the big stage as often as possible. Starting with Mississippi State. Let’s bury them like we did Illinois.

          • Romie_Rome

            I don’t blame you. I’m a second generation Mississippi State alum; and my university has been struggling to earn respect my entire life. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard or seen us referred to as the “Mississippi State Rebels” or the “Ole Miss Bulldogs.”

            I’m looking forward to this match-up. This Wildcat offense frightens me. Our defense has struggled to find its identity all season.

          • CatInTheHat

            That is frustrating. The good news is that I believe both teams ended up in the best possible matchup for them, and by making it a good game, they both have a chance to make a little bit of noise and prove the naysayers wrong. I’ve been reading some of the Gator Bowl blogs/Facebook page, and it seems as though you guys were able to jump Vandy for a spot in this game, which is fantastic. I think you’ll find as you read or blogs that our fans are hungry–maybe desperate, even–for a bowl victory, as we are now a perennial bowl participant but have not won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl. Hopefully you’ll forgive us our rabidness in our desire to break that streak and continue raising the profile of our program!

  • Pittsburgh Wildcat

    Outback just tweeted confirming they picked Michigan.

  • Wildcats99

    Symbolic of the season, Another last minute 4th Quarter Loss. This time with Bowl selection. I think it is a fair outcome given the standings, but I think it is total B.S. that the league stepped in to dictate it. I am starting to really dislike Delaney. First Rutgers & MD expansion, now screwing over NU…. Argh! All I can say is let’s win baby & bring home the Gator Bowl 2013 Championship!

  • skepticat

    It might be worth considering that Delany may have sacrificed the dogs of the championship game to give the other teams in the conference a better chance to win. Given the conference’s recent bowl image and Wisconsin’s likely heavy underdog status in a now much-diminished Rose Bowl matchup, can’t totally blame him for setting up Nebraska for a possible blowout in a better bowl if Michigan and NU can benefit with victories against more manageable opponents.

    But more simply: Nebraska beat Michigan, and we lost to both, so it’s hard to feel like we’ve been snubbed. But just goes to show that predictions by sports “analysts”, effusive praise by bowl execs, and a couple bucks will get you a cup of coffee.

    But wherever we end up, this will be as big a game as any in NU history: January 1st bowl, 10-win season on the line, breaking the bowl streak, record-setting 50th win for Fitz. There’s no reason to not be up for this game, regardless of the opponent or location.

    • cs93

      Good post. Totally agree. The conference stepped in to save face after a 3rd place team at 8-5 wins the auto bid to the Rose. That takes some of the luster off the Rose Bowl. I expect Stanford to beat Wisky handily. Gator is the right bowl for us based on how well we did in conference play and the fact we lost to both Nebraska and Michigan. Now, if for some reason, the Gator picks Michigan State instead of NU (which they can do according to the rules so well outlined by LTP), we have a major beef.

    • aaron

      Great post!

  • cece

    Let’s get to work. what are the hotels for the B1G and SEC? must know where to hang out/stay and where to avoid. what is fun in Jax or nearby? start planning for a great trip down to see the ‘Cats!

    • vaudvillain

      I’ll be there. Let’s sell out our alottment and win the game. Go Cats!

    • NU_Roger

      Gator Bowl twitter feed says #B1G at Omni and #SEC at Sawgrass Marriott.

      • cece

        thanks! & looking for things to do beyond beach and golf and football related activities, so any ideas are appreciated.

        • Paul K

          Don’t know Jax that well, but head a short way down the coast to St. Augustine for a beautiful, historic city.

          • cece

            great idea! thanks.

          • PBRCat

            What’s to know? It is one of the least desirable metro areas in Florida.

          • cece

            get your sad face off and get on down to Jax with the ‘Cats.

          • PBRCat

            Pasadena, Orlando, San Antonio, Detroit, El Paso, San Antonio, again, Tampa, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston. I have made every bowl since 1996 and have an 0-9 record to show for it.

            Go Cats! Shock the monkey!

          • DT

            All due respect PBR, but maybe you might want to sit this one out? :-)

    • Nate

      Planning on being a first time bowl-goer…where can I assure a seat in the Purple section? Looking for a place to stay near the ‘Cat festivities…don’t know Jacksonville, so looking for a little direction…thanks and hopefully see you all and the ‘Cats down there.

      • DenverWildcat

        Make sure to order tickets through the NU athletic department. Go Cats!

        • Nate

          Thanks, will do…now to find some lodging and to find out where the ‘Cat-related events are in this town they call Jacksonville.

        • vaudvillain

          Tickets ordered. Long time bowl watcher, first time attender. Looking forward to it. Now let’s win this one! Go Cats!

          • Jpklock

            I won’t be able to attend the game, but I’ll buy a ticket for someone who wants to go but can’t afford it (is NU coordinating alumni donors to students?) LTP, can you provide some advice on how to get connected with someone who’ll put some purple in the stadium on my behalf?

          • vaudvillain

            If you order through nusports, there’s an option for donating tickets — $60 per, plus $8 processing fee. No idea how it works after that.

      • cece

        welcome first timer! always buy tickets through NU. look at the bowl tour offering, but rif off that. you can do the pep rally and parade by wandering around and hanging out with folks you know, not necessary to do the tour unless you want to. the festivities are along the river front…the pep rally is there….and the stadium is only a mile and a half from the tour hotel, the Hyatt, and the site of the rally, something called the Landing. Jax is large in area, so if someone says they’ll meet you somewhere, be on the alert. Go ‘Cats!

        • gocatsteve

          Yes, well-seasoned Bowl attendee here (though a Jax virgin). Try to stay near the tour group hotel, the Hyatt, and you’ll run into lots of purple. The tour group normally stays near most of the festivities. My wife and I go with our four kids every bowl, and that’s what we do. Never have a rough time finding Cats fans that way. Always fun…

  • vaudvillain

    Just win the game. The backroom dealing pisses me off, but the bottom line is that both Nebraska and Michigan beat us, so I can’t really argue with our placement. Win the bowl game. Kill the monkey. Then march into Lincoln next year and thump the Huskers for rolling over without even putting up a fight against the third-place Leaders representative.

    • zeek

      Agreed. If we win this bowl game, we get a 10-win season and an end of season ranking.

      Most importantly for the future, we get a preseason ranking and a lot of eyeballs for our early season tests (hello Ohio State).

      A lot of big things in the future that can happen with a win here; focus on the opportunity at hand.

  • RDG75

    Whatever it takes to not set the record for most consecutive bowl losses, this is probably the best chance of the 3.

    • DT

      Amen…

  • Catville

    A MSU blog called SixPackSpeak is saying that the Bulldogs may fall to the Music City Bowl and Gamecocks will play in the Gator

    • zeek

      How would that happen? Do they have enough teams ahead of them…?

    • cece

      Spurrier…yeeech.

  • DT

    Brett Kurland– Despite all the conference hyperbole, Phil Steele called it the other night… My guess is the powers that be, ie- Slive and Delany wanted some level of parity for its softest teams at 9-3/8-4… With this NU-MSU match up (assuming it is indeed Miss. State), both conferences win in that neither teams looks to be blown out by the other… Could be a fun game and IMHO, they got it right with this match up that is advantageous to NU trying to break these abysmal streak… MSU has to feel pretty good about its chances as well converserly.. This is a best case scenario for Northwestern on New Year’s Day regardless of the locale…

    • zeek

      I tend to agree.

      The gain from actually winning a bowl game and securing a #10-15 ranking to end the season are huge; we may end up getting a preseason ranking next year as well.

      That’d be a huge 9 months for our program to go from the end of November 2012 to September 2013 ranked…

      • DT

        This is really what I’ve been harping on the last couple years here as I think you are aware…. Truly building a program that is competitive and demands earnest resect on the national level is about hitting benchmarks. Seven years into the Fitzgerald era, the guy love him or hate him, has not hit too many… To my way of thinking, three things legitimize NU short term.. A Top 25 AP End of Season ranking, a bowl win at any venue it might accept an invite from and a conference division title leading to a berth in Indy… The fact NU is seemingly not being asked to move up in weight class for the simple reason that 2 of the 4 best teams in the Ten are ineligible for post season play, says this potential MSU match up gives us the best chance to accomplish at least 2 of the 3 “Attainable” goals… Build from there… Lose another bowl and finish out of Top 25 via that? HUGE effin setback..

        • Nate

          Agreed…wanted to see them in Orlando, but the potential long-term positives associated with winning the Gator Bowl trumps it. Hopefully NU can continue to grow and eventually become a “can’t-miss pick” like NEB and MICH are.

        • zeek

          I agree completely.

          This is probably the most important “program building” opportunity that Fitz has had in his 7 years as HC.

          A win here gets you a lot of postseason and preseason hype for next year.

          It can’t be understated how big a win would be for the long-term benefits to the program.

        • PBRCat

          I agree with you. Randy Walker was on a pace to surpass Lynn “Pappy” at the time of his passing, but this was not meant to be.
          While Fitzgerald is going to become the all-time Wildcats leader in coaching victories, both Waldorf and Walker still have an edge over Fitz: they both secured wins against every opposing team in the conference. Fitz has not defeated Ohio State or Penn State once after seven complete seasons. Another nod to to Pappy, is that in addition to 49 wins his teams recorded 7 ties. There were no overtime periods during his era.
          Winning a bowl game trophy would be an achievement for Fitzgerald, but a true accomplishment would be for Northwestern to secure another conference title. He has not been close yet.
          Northwestern has to win everything outright because a sell out like Jim Delany will never have the Wildcats’ backs.

  • Henry in CT

    I think purple and white vs maroon and white looks pretty good. It is a winnable game and we can’t complain because we should have beaten Nebraska and Michigan. And BTW if OSU and PSU were available we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. And BTW again, why isn’t anyone commenting on the rumor that the B1G is interested in Georgia Tech?

  • Nate

    While it may be the ‘cats best shot at a win, I’m disappointed at the fact that Nebraska, who got whipped last night by 39 points, gets to return to Orlando and the ‘cats drop to Jax. Yes, I know, NU could have helped itself out by closing out at least 2 of their 3 losses this year, but still, it was looking real good for Cap One when ‘Sconnie was running circles around the “black shirts”. Personally, this is a statement game for NU: a statement to be made to the B1G and the bowl committees that NU is legit and will continue to be a Jan.1 bowl factor in the coming years. Time to earn it men…time to earn the respect you deserve with a huge 10th win over a good opponent. BTW, I think NU owns the “11am ESPN2″ kick slot…they ought to rename the channel “The Purple-Cat Network” lol.

    Finally, does anyone know about any good bowl packages outside of the one offered by the Alumni Association, might make the trip down there but don’t have much knowledge about the logistics of Jax.

  • CatAlum06

    Sign of the times when NU fans are complaining for getting a bowl bid exactly in-line with our final standing position in the division. Just a few years ago, we were getting passed by every other eligible B1G team! The only thing to do now is focus on going 2/2 against the SEC this year!

  • David

    Last night Tom Dienhart projected UNL to cap one and UM to Outback…he then stated that the teams could flip. We chalked it up as a mistake…because the rules would not allow UM to cap one. But after the events of today…I wonder if he misspoke…or was he aware of backroom dealings trying to find a way to get UM to Orlando.

    • DT

      Great question, David… I’m sitting there at 12:15a CT listening to Dienhart on the Post Game BTN set last night– wondering exactly what indeed HE MIGHT KNOW, making that prediction on a Big Ten owned and operated media platform no less… At the risk of being repetitive, I wondered what Phil Steele might have known on Wednesday night sticking with that NU-MSU Gator Bowl, even if Nebraska would have won! Hmmmm…
      Net/net, Slive and Delany have plenty of creative lattitude and favors can be redeemed for many years… Quid pro quo, backroom, whatever..

  • NUMBalumDave

    Yeah, ol’ NUMBalumDave saw this coming. I won’t say I’m 100% happy about it, but hey, Jan 1 in FL is a lot better than any other bowl that would have picked us. And let’s be real about this, PSU in the mix would have pushed us down another slot or two.
    Don’t be pissed off at Delany for pushing NE’s case. The conference has an obligation to push the division winners.
    Let’s WIN THIS BOWL game, after which we will get the respect we deserve. We can worry about getting dissed next year.
    I hope to make it, and to see all of you in JAX! GO CATS!

  • CatAlum06

    Mississippi State’s best conference win was a home game against TN… who finished 5-7. They did beat two SWAC teams that finished the season with winning records… just sayin’.

  • Purple Flag on Saturday

    What’s not to like? The ‘Cats are going bowling-for a record 5th consecutive year- and will play on New Year’s Day once again, to boot. In the words of The Hawk: “it’s all good”.

    Go ‘Cats!

  • DenverWildcat

    I’m very pleased with this bowl. We are well ranked, in a game on Jan 1 with a team we can handle and I’m booking my ticket to Jacksonville. As mentioned above, I am also mortified that NIU is in a BCS bowl??? They lost to Iowa and beat nobody (except Kent State who I suspect is also a pretender), brutal

    • BostonWildcat

      what projected BCS standings are you looking at that has NIU in the top 16 (which would place them into a BCS game)? Official standings, and subsequently the bowl picks, don’t come out until 8:30 EST tonight.

      • Nate

        Here’s the link I found someone post on NIU’s facebook page…

        http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/pete_thamel/12/02/orange-bowl-northern-illinois/index.html

        If it’s actually true, it’s shocking knowing NIU gets picked knowing that Oklahoma is on the board. Good for them and I hope they win, but if you ask me, I’ll take the build up to a perennial BCS contender over a flash in the pan just about any day.

        • DT

          They deserve it, and have been playing Top 25 level football on pretty much a regular basis the last 3-4 years… Certainly a Top 20 level team in 2010, whacking Fresno State in a bowl to end the year… They earn respect by winning those type games and being the MAC Championship the last three years no less… What exactly has Northwestern done to even remotely be considered a BCS contender given its body of work?
          Pretty exciting really for Chicago area to be the epicenter of College Football to some extent with two “area” teams in the BCS… Some motivation for another area team, located in Evanston to get it done this year in their less competitive bowl setting…

          • Nate

            I agree, but they play in a weak conference…the MAC (no BCS AQ) vs. the B1G (BCS AQ)…NU is BUILDING to becoming a BCS contender and they gotta win the Gator to continue building, I never said they were one. NIU has the skill to compete in the BCS, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be back unless they are perfect in their conference, which is why their BCS appearances appear to be more of the “flash in the pan” nature than NU. Either way, I’m happy they made it.

          • DT

            Thanks for the explanation… Understood..

        • Richard

          Actually, the BCS is obligated to take them if NIU is 16th or above. They definitely don’t want NIU instead of OU.

      • CM

        ESPN and Sports Illustrated have confirmed it. NIU to the Orange Bowl.

    • Richard

      I consider NU fans who complain about NIU in a BCS bowl to be akin to a guy born on third-base complaining about affirmative action.

      Sure, NIU may not be as good as NU (or a lot of other teams) this year, but consider that NU is in the Big10 solely due to historical happenstance, and if we weren’t in the Big10, there’s no way we’d be going to a NYD bowl with the exact same talent and accomplishments. Just ask the Rice team that went 9-3 (10-3 overall) in 2008.

      • DenverWildcat

        I’m not debating how either NU or NIU ended up in the conference that they did. I’m pointing out that NIU faced weak competition all year. NU, on the other hand, had five wins in the Big Ten conference which means a lot more despite the down year. Rice may have gone 9-3 but they also faced weaker competition and when they didn’t Texas murdered them. They were also beaten handily by Vandy and Tulsa. If this Wildcat squad played all the teams that NIU played this year (or Rice in 08) we would have likely been 13-0 and heading to a NYD bowl, but I wouldn’t be foolish enough to think they deserved a title shot or BCS berth by destroying teams in a minor conference. NIU did their job by going out and winning, I think they deserve a bowl but not a BCS bowl.

  • zeek

    Josh Kendall ‏@JoshatTheState

    Steve Spurrier: “If you beat Northwestern or you get beat by Northwestern, you don’t achieve as much as you do against Michigan.”

    —————————————————————–

    This is what we’re up against. We have to BUILD our rep. Get this win.

    • DT

      Wow… That is some really telling stuff from the old ball coach… While many here would call it “negativity”, or claim the rest of the college football world does not understand or respect NU, fact of the matter, Spurrier speaks for most outside this immediate NU sphere of influence– with that slice of “perception is reality”…
      Word to the wise, if you think this bowl game does not matter, or are indifferent to the result hoping for a good vacation spot or locale with a Four Seasons, think again..

      • zeek

        He basically told the truth about how others view facing us.

        It’s a lose-lose proposition.

        It’s up to us to change that by winning these games.

        • DT

          Yup…

      • Henry in CT

        The other problem with playing NU is that we have the potential to beat anyone and Spurrier knows it. We may be a tough out but they wont get any credit for beating us and they’ll be crucified if they don’t. We have two entirely different offensive looks to prepare for and Siemian has shown that on occasion he can move the ball down the field as well as anyone. I too wish that we had a better opponent than Miss St because we aren’t going to get a lot of credit for beating them either and I honestly think that we could beat a top 10 team.

        • DT

          Yes, Henry… The age old bromide, ‘that’s why they play the game” is indeed applicable here.. Still, I’ll take my chances with say Miss. State, Vandy, Ole Miss or that level bowl eligible SEC team than say the programs all sitting in the BCS Top 10…

  • nucat96

    Just some travel advice. I was told to stay at the Hyatt Regency by a friend who goes to the Florida-UGA game on a regular basis. IT is the closest to the nightlife and stadium and everything is walking distance. Basically the entrance opens up to the Landing.. To get a room you need to go through the gator bowl website click on partner hotel etc etc. If you go to the hotel website it will say it is sold-out, it is not. Be aware the rooms are a bit pricier compared to some other places but if you don’t mind spending a little extra $$ that is the way to go.

    GO CATS

  • Old Fat Bald Guy

    Northwestern finished third in its division, two of the top three teams in the other division can’t go to a bowl, and Northwestern got the B1G’s fourth slot. I think it’s really a stretch to say they deserved a higher slot.

  • The Stopczynski Bowl

    Let’s do this!!

  • Stephen Zgrabik

    http://blogs.clarionledger.com/msu/2012/12/02/live-updates-gator-bowl-teleconference-with-dan-mullen-pat-fitzgerald/

    Its pretty cool that Dan Mullen and Fitz seem to know each other pretty well and respect each other as coaches.

  • JP

    Good lord, flights to Jacksonville from Chicago shouldn’t be THIS expensive. Is everyone biting the bullet here? Or am I missing something? The price SHOULD be closer to $300, IME.

    • NorCalCat

      You should try it from California. Cheapest I’ve found is about $750

    • Polymersci

      JP,

      To second NorCalCat, I’ve been searching flights from Orange County, CA (SoCal) and the fares are outrageous! $1700 for two roundtrip tickets on Southwest. Tickets are even more expensive on the other carriers. Ouch…
      Go Cats!

      • JP

        I wonder if Priceline might be the way to go. The Mrs. won’t let me do it as she’s afraid we’ll get put on some ridiculous, out of the way layover, but I’m interested in seeing if anyone has a success story.

  • GradCat

    I would be wary of looking down upon Miss. State’s win/loss. They’re pretty much in the same place NU is. People keep bringing up that they won games over crappy opponents, but look at their losses. Alabama, TAMU and LSU are teams we likely wouldn’t have beaten either. Their only “bad” loss would be to Ole Miss (which, granted, they lost 41-24).

  • CliffG

    Lots of folks seem to think this is a good thing, but (a) if we lose it won’t be a good thing because of the beatable opponent, and (b) I predict we won’t sell our allotment of tickets because of the opponent, and that’s bad news for future bowls.

    • PBRCat

      Does the fact that the USA is in a “Depression” warrant some leeway being granted in terms of reduced ticket sales? Nebraska and Wisconsin could not sell out the conference title game in Indy. I cannot believe that Nebraska will travel well to Orlando. I expect Wisconsin will do better in Pasadena.

  • LovemesomeVenricMark

    While I’d rather be in Tampa as the underdog with a puncher’s chance against a Lattimore-less South Carolina, I’ll take a Jan. 1 bowl against an 8+ win SEC opponent either way and at least find the arrangement better than being a sacrificial lamb for Georgia.

    What bothers me more is the national spin that the Gator Bowl is somehow less important this year just because we’re there instead of Urban Meyer (despite the fact that both the B1G and the SEC representatives have better records this year). See the AP story announcing this year’s Gator Bowl participants that is dutifully being recirculated around the country to let everyone know what a terrible game the Gator Bowl ended up with: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/colleges/gator-bowl-gets-less-than-marquee-matchup-with-northwestern-mississippi-state/2012/12/02/beccde66-3ce6-11e2-8a5c-473797be602c_story.html

  • HDB

    I am not upset about NU being in the Gator Bowl. However, where NU ended up should not have been based on Delaney making the decision. If NU was so unworthy in his view then he shouldn’t have worried and just let the bowl committees make their selections. If NU had been blown out in the conference championship game would Delaney have interceded to keep us in the Cap One? I doubt it. Shame on him but at least we now know he is no friend of NU and like Spurrier and others has no respect for NU. As we move forward to establish ourselves as contenders, we will not only have to deal with external doubters but also insiders like Delaney who should but in fact don’t have our back. Boo Delaney – I have no respect for him. Go Cats!

  • http://twitter.com/jdw73 Jack White

    Gary Barnett used to talk about “teams learning how to win,” which usually meant learning that they had to play hard for 60 minutes and not let up. I thought this team learned how to win vs Sparty. Everyone one of our players knows that they were about 30 or 40 minutes from an undefeated season and everything that would have brought. They now have an opportunity to make a statement. The team seems to be mostly healthy except for poor Hunter Bates. They’re currently the underdog, and probably will not even dominate local press coverage – that will go to that South Bend team and to NIU, godamercy. NIU. So there should be a gigantic chip on their shoulders, motivation galore, and let’s Go Cats.

  • JM

    My god, the whining here is really quite something. Way to reinforce every stereotype of a spoiled private-school fanbase.

    On Saturday, everyone agreed the Gator was one of three logical bowl destinations based on our finish. We wound up there because teams ahead of us in the standings who beat us head to head got taken first. Nothing remotely unfair about it.

    This is a solid “name” NYD bowl game, and a winnable matchup. If we win, we kill the streak, and go into next year ranked. It’ll be awesome.

    I hoped for Orlando, but realized getting there would be more due to Phillips’ magic than our work on the field. This is a fair destination for our season, and I’m psyched to (1) post a second win over an SEC team, (2) break the streak, (3) finish the season ranked, (4) start next season ranked and (5) see Fitz become our all-time winningest coach.

    Is that not enough awesome for all of you on the heels of a 9-3 season in a year most of us were hoping for 7-5?, with one of the youngest rosters in the conference?

  • bandcat

    Wanted Redemption in Tampa..Lets fill the air with Flyin Monkies when we beat Mississippi State at the Gator. Go Cats! JUst Do It!

  • Poker1

    You know, there are way too many complaints about this game. I would like to see NU vs MSU (Dawgs). I lost money on Michigan a two years ago when they played MSU. I difficult to gage that type of team. After all, they lost to LSU, Alabama,Texas A&M and thier rival Ole Miss (was better at the end of the season). I wouldnt bet any money on this game.