Mag Mile hotel to light up purple for Northwestern bowl win

Northwestern defensive lineman Brian Arnfelt (91) holds the trophy along with his teammate Will Hampton (92) after their 34-20 win over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)

January 4, 2013 4:35:39 AM PST
A downtown Chicago hotel will be lighting up the skies to honor the Northwestern Wildcats' win at the Gator Bowl.

The InterContinental Chicago plans to light its hotel dome in purple and white lights through Sunday night.

The Wildcats beat Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl earlier this week. The 21st-ranked Wildcats hadn't won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl.

The hotel is along the city's upscale Michigan Avenue shopping district.

The team returned to Evanston Wednesday afternoon. The festive atmosphere outside of Ryan Field resembled that of a pep rally as the Northwestern University Wildcat Marching Band led the fanfare for the football team.

The Northwestern finally snapped college football's longest post-season losing streak of nine bowl losses, spanning more than 60 years.

Bruce Winograd was there. He has held season tickets ever since he graduated from Northwestern in 1965.

"To finally get a victory is great," Winograd said. "It felt fantastic being at the bowl game."

The Wildcats flew in from Jacksonville, Fla., as Gator Bowl champions and say they suspected that some kind of celebration would be waiting for them on campus.

"Sixty-three years has been a long time," said safety Ibraheim Campbell.

"We enjoyed it. We have fans behind us, and they support us lot, and we try to keep them in the game," said running back Venric Mark.

The win is a long time coming for head coach Pat Fitzgerald, who played for Northwestern on the team that went to and lost the 1996 Rose Bowl.

"That's something that we could never have back, but at the end of the day we felt like we won," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald also said the win is great for fundraising and recruiting. When it comes to Northwestern football, Fitzgerald said, "The sky is the limit."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.