Everything has played out according to plan after the Michigan game: take one away from Michigan State, pick up the “W” at home against Nebraska, don’t embarrass the Northwestern name against Rutgers, and knock Wisconsin out of the rankings. Check, check, check, and, yes, check.
Next up on the to-do list: Notre Dame. Notre Dame is Northwestern’s highest-ranked opponent, sitting pretty at No. 3, and its play this season has warranted the high ranking. Notre Dame is undefeated and has the College Football Playoffs on the line against Northwestern.
Regardless of what happens tomorrow, NU has put itself in a good position for a bowl game. Let’s see where the experts have the Wildcats going after the season:
ESPN (Kyle Bonagura) - Redbox Bowl vs. Oregon
Date: Dec. 31, 3 p.m. (Fox); Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
This is going to be a pretty common theme — four out of the five analyst opinions featured here peg Northwestern for the Redbox Bowl. Formerly known as the Foster Farms Bowl and San Francisco Bowl, Redbox took over the naming rights for the bowl game this season. The game has an arrangement to host a team from the Big Ten and the Pac-12; last year, Purdue beat Arizona. This certainly is not the most prestigious game to be playing in—maybe even a step down from the Music City Bowl, which Northwestern won last year.
ESPN (Mitch Sherman) - Holiday Bowl vs. Oregon
Date: Dec. 31, 7 p.m. (FS1); Location: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl. Say that five times fast.
Known as the Holiday Bowl, it’s similar to the Redbox in that they both feature a Pac-12 Big Ten matchup. It’s a step below the Citrus Bowl in prestige but above the Redbox Bowl. It has seen some solid recent participants in Michigan State, Washington State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and USC. Evidenced by a quick google search, the Holiday Bowl is associated with the Wiener Nationals, the national championships for the U.S. dachshund racing circuit.
So, dachshund racing fans, get excited!
CBS (Jerry Palm) - Redbox Bowl vs. Oregon
We’ve already gone over a bit about the Redbox Bowl so let’s talk Oregon: Oregon’s rebuilding a bit and has a losing record in conference. Oregon looked to be in a position to make the conference championship game after a big win against Washington, but it has since lost at the hands of Washington State and Arizona. If Northwestern plays as it did against Wisconsin, they should pull out the win in this matchup.
SB Nation (Jason Kirk) - Redbox Bowl vs. Oregon
Expect some free video rentals as bowl swag, Northwestern!
Athlon Sports (Steven Lassan) - Redbox Bowl vs. USC
Still the same bowl game, but this a rematch of the 1995 Rose Bowl, which ended with a 41-32 loss for Northwestern. Sitting second in the Pac-12 South, USC beat Arizona, which picked apart Oregon last week. But USC also lost to all currently-ranked teams in Washington State, Texas, and Utah. Another matchup that gives Northwestern a very realistic chance to walk away with its fifth bowl victory.