As the 2018 season approaches, Northwestern holds a two-game postseason winning streak and a three-year bowl appearance streak. The Wildcats have established themselves as a pretty good bet to make a bowl game year in and year out. With an eight-game win streak, new facilities and what looks to be a healthy Clayton Thorson, NU will look to do even more this year. Here’s a look at where analysts peg Northwestern to be when postseason play rolls around.
CBS - San Francisco Bowl vs. Utah (Jerry Palm)
The San Francisco Bowl is the new name of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, I mean, Foster Farms Bowl. As you could guess, this isn’t the most prestigious game to be in, with recent participants coming out of the Big Ten being Purdue, Indiana, and Nebraska. It’s definitely one of the lesser regarded bowls, and it should probably be seen as a disappointing result, but it is in California!
Athlon Sports - San Francisco Bowl vs. Oregon (Steven Lassan)
Sigh, another San Francisco Bowl. It would be pretty cool to play Oregon, a traditional college football blue blood, but it probably would mean Northwestern didn’t have a strong season. Odds are, if they ended up in this bowl, in either scenario, they’d be sitting at 6-7 regular season wins.
SB Nation - San Francisco Bowl vs. Utah (Jason Kirk)
I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to sense a trend. Interestingly enough, the SB Nation projections were based purely off of win totals as set by Vegas. The o/u on Northwestern wins is either 6 or 6.5 wins depending on the source, and that would indeed mean NU slots into the San Francisco Bowl.
247Sports - Gator Bowl vs. Florida (Phil Steele)
Slightly better. This bowl is probably around the tier of the Music City Bowl, so it still wouldn’t really represent a step forward for the Cats’. Still, Steele sees this as being Northwestern performing above its talent suggests. This bowl is played on New Year’s Eve, like the SF Bowl, but is certainly more of an appealing bowl, even if it isn’t the most attractive. Plus, who doesn’t like playing an SEC team, despite the fact that Florida would have a major home field advantage in this matchup. Another interesting tidbit about this matchup is that this would be Dan Mullen’s first bowl game as head coach of Florida. To wreck the conclusion of Mullen’s first season at Florida would be pretty rewarding. Northwestern also won the Gator Bowl back in 2013.
Sporting News - Holiday Bowl vs. USC (Bill Bender)
Okay, this would be a pretty intriguing contest. The Holiday Bowl is a more desired bowl, and typically pits two teams that had really solid seasons. Recent matchups like Michigan State vs. Washington State, Wisconsin vs. USC, and Nebraska vs. USC all suggest that Northwestern would likely have 8-9 regular season wins if they were to receive a bid to this bowl. This projected matchup would also be a rematch of the 1995 Rose Bowl, which was a magical season for NU. It’s not Pasadena, but this would still be nice.