The last time Northwestern won a bowl game was 1948 in the Rose Bowl. The school suffered through a 47-year postseason drought until Gary Barnett brought the school back to Pasadena in 1995, and then won a share of the conference title in 1996 and earned a Citrus Bowl bid. Both ended in losses to opponents with much more manpower. After three more years out of the bowl picture, they went to 2000 Alamo Bowl and were routed by Nebraska. An '03 trip to the Motor City Bowl gave them a manageable opponent in Bowling Green and a respectable final score--but the Wildcats still left town with an "L."
Given this bowl history, the matchup with UCLA in the Sun Bowl does not look promising. But this NU team has Brett Basanez, the man who deserved conference MVP honors. And it remains to be seen if there will be psychological fallout for the Bruins, after their 66-19 trashing by Southern Cal. And even if there is not, this is still a UCLA team that was routed by Arizona--a team far less capable then Randy Walker's Wildcats.
On its way to the Rose Bowl in 1995, Northwestern beat Notre Dame, Michigan and Penn State. If they win the Sun Bowl, it might well be the biggest win they've had since then.