After a weekend drubbing of the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Evanston, Northwestern moved up in both the Coaches Poll (14) and AP Poll (13) yet again. It was a Week 5 of significant Top 25 movement with ranked teams losing left and right and impressive up-and-comers (see you, Florida) getting huge wins.
But, at 5-0, how will the near-midseason bowl projections favor the Wildcats? Will Northwestern be able to, should they win out in the regular season and possibly be crowned the Big Ten Champion, participate in the Playoff?
Most writers don't think the Wildcats have done enough to warrant a Playoff berth, but some, including Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde, do. Most have Northwestern in the outer-fringe of top bowls against good teams from other power-conferences. However, if NU is able to beat Michigan on Saturday, those projections will certainly change. So, after five weeks, here's where the experts think the Wildcats will be playing their bowl game:
Jason Kirk: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Pittsburgh, Dec. 26
Mark Schlabach: National University Holiday Bowl vs. USC, Dec. 30
Brett McMurphy: Outback Bowl vs. Georgia, Jan. 1
ESPN Big Ten Blog
Brian Bennett: Outback Bowl, Jan. 1
Jerry Palm: Outback Bowl vs. Texas A&M, Jan. 1
Pat Forde: Orange Bowl (Semifinal of College Football Playoff) vs. Florida, Dec. 31
Forde is one of the only writers from a major national outlet to pick Northwestern for the CFP. It may be a bit of a stretch on the surface, but Northwestern's résumé so far is one of the nation's best, and that's what Forde's projections are based on.