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Northwestern to play Utah in Holiday Bowl

We hear Southern California is nice this time of year.

Big Ten Championship - Northwestern v Ohio State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

No. 22 Northwestern (8-5, 8-1 Big Ten) will play No. 17 Utah (9-4, 6-3 Pac-12) in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, California, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy reports. The game will kickoff at 6 p.m. CT on Monday, Dec. 31.

Northwestern will head to California on the heels of the program’s first Big Ten Championship appearance, a 45-24 loss to No. 6 Ohio State. On that note, NU looks to extend another program best; the Wildcats are in the midst of a two-year bowl win streak. Clayton Thorson and this team’s seniors have won 35 games, 26 of them in the Big Ten, and a division title. A Holiday Bowl victory would be a fitting sendoff for the most successful class in program history.

Utah opened conference play with losses to Washington and Washington State, but took care of business against mediocre Pac-12 opponents and managed wins over Stanford and Oregon to cement a trip to the Pac-12 Championship. The Utes dropped the ugly 10-3 game to Washington and lost leading receiver Britain Covey to a serious leg injury. Injuries have plagued longtime head coach Kyle Whittingham’s team at its skill positions; star running back Zack Moss is out for the season after suffering a knee injury in practice in early November. Utah also lost quarterback Tyler Huntley in the win over Arizona State on Nov. 3, but it sounds like he has a good chance of playing on Dec. 31.

S&P+ Comparison

Category Northwestern Utah
Category Northwestern Utah
S&P+ 80 17
Offensive S&P+ 103 43
Defensive S&P+ 32 22
Special Teams S&P+ 122 7

We’ll have plenty of additional bowl coverage to come. Also, here’s a look at what we know so far of the Big Ten bowl lineup (you already know Ohio State and Washington will meet in the Rose Bowl).

See you all in San Diego.