According to college football reporter Brett McMurphy, the Holiday Bowl was planning on taking 7-5 Iowa over 9-3 Northwestern but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and the league have been pushing back against that decision.
From McMurphy’s Facebook page:
A couple of days ago I was told the Holiday Bowl was going to bypass Northwestern (9-3) for Iowa (7-5). Unlike other conferences, the Big Ten doesn’t have any requirements prohibiting bowls from skipping a team with one more win than another school. However, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany contacted the bowl to express his thoughts about the bowl bypassing a team with two fewer wins (he did not approve of this), so it appears Northwestern will be headed to the Holiday Bowl, marking its first California bowl since the 1995 Rose Bowl.
McMurphy is a former ESPN employee and has been breaking all kinds of college football news lately, including some major coaching hires, so he’s very much a reliable source of information. It’s interesting that he assumes Delany will be able to convince the Holiday Bowl executives to change their mind, given that the Big Ten doesn’t have a rule preventing this type of thing.
It would be absolutely ridiculous if Iowa does end up going to the Holiday over Northwestern. The Wildcats, beyond having two more wins than the Hawkeyes, beat them head-to-head. Iowa lost to Michigan State and Purdue, for crying out loud. Sure, Iowa is a large public school with a much bigger fanbase, but Northwestern fans tend to travel pretty well for bowl games.
Also worth noting from McMurphy’s post is that he thinks the Citrus Bowl is virtually a lock to take Michigan State and LSU. He projects Michigan to go to the Outback Bowl and Northwestern’s Holiday opponent to be Arizona.
Bowl games are officially announced on Sunday.