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Northwestern football selected to play Utah in 2023 Las Vegas Bowl

The Wildcats are heading out west to take on a PAC-12 opponent.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Northwestern Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

On the heels of a rather remarkable 7-5 season and second-place Big Ten West finish, Northwestern football is hot in the streets — and going somewhere warm as a top option for bowl game aggregators.

On Sunday afternoon, it was announced that NU will be taking on Utah in the 2023 SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl in Las Vegas, Nevada. As for game specifics, the contest will take place in Allegiant Stadium — home of the Las Vegas Raiders — Saturday, Dec. 23 at 6:30 p.m. CT/4:30 p.m. PT.

The Wildcats’ trip to the Silver State will mark their first bowl game since 2020, when they took down Auburn 35-19 in the Citrus Bowl. More specifically, 2023 will be the program’s first ever bowl game played in Nevada, and first game there since 2006 — when the ‘Cats lost to the Nevada Wolf Pack, 31-21.

As for the team’s opponent, the Utes (8-4, 5-4 PAC-12) reached as high as No. 10 in the AP Poll but lost consecutive road matchups to No. 5 Washington and No. 19 Arizona in Weeks 11-12. Their strong season occurred despite star veteran QB Cam Rising missing all of the year due to torn ligaments in his knee suffered at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign — one which saw Utah win its second straight PAC-12 title.

Now in his 19th season at the helm, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has led his program to 15 bowl games. Last year, the Utes lost the Rose Bowl to Penn State, 35-21.

In the all-time series history, Northwestern is 2-1 against Utah. The two programs dueled in the 2018 Holiday Bowl in San Diego, which saw NU prevail 31-20.

Stay tuned to Inside NU for continued previews, analysis and insights in the 20 days until the Wildcats are back on the gridiron.