In what was no surprise, Northwestern announced Sunday it will play in the inaugural TicketCity Bowl in Dallas on Jan. 1.
The Wildcats will play Texas Tech at the Cotton Bowl. It will be the first meeting between the schools and it will be the first bowl game on New Year's Day.
''When I told the team, they were ecstatic,'' Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald said. ''We've had a couple practices and we have a lot to work on between now and then. Our focus was back to the basics and what you learn in grade-school football.''
NU (7-5, 3-5) finished tied for seventh in the Big Ten with Michigan. With Illinois losing to Fresno State on Friday night and finishing 6-6, there was a slight chance NU might have gone to the Texas Bowl in Houston on Dec. 29. But the Illini got the call to Houston, sending NU to Dallas.
''It played out the way we thought, but in the last week there was a lot of jockeying for position,'' NU athletic director Jim Phillips said. ''We traveled so well to Houston [to play Rice on Sept. 18 with 8,000 to 10,000 fans] and felt good about going anywhere in Texas.''
Texas Tech (7-5, 3-5) will be making its 11th consecutive bowl appearance. Texas Tech beat Michigan State 41-31 in last season's Alamo Bowl.
NU is making a school-record third consecutive bowl appearance, ninth all-time and eighth in the last 16 years. The Wildcats have not won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl when they beat California. Last New Year's Day, NU lost to Auburn 38-35 in overtime at the Outback Bowl.
''That was one of the questions we faced in 2008 when we headed to the Alamo Bowl, and it is one more thing to get off our backs,'' senior linebacker Quentin Davie said. ''A bowl win would take the program to another level.''