The Panthers, who went 8-4 this season, will make their ninth consecutive bowl appearance, and 33rd in program history. Pittsburgh finished 5-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division, and it was the only team in the nation to defeat two "Power 5" conference champions: No. 2 Clemson of the ACC and No. 5 Penn State of the Big Ten.
"Congratulations to our student-athletes and coaches for finishing an exciting regular season on a fantastic high note and earning a Tier One bowl bid," said Pittsburgh's athletic director Scott Barnes in a news release. "I want to thank the New Era Pinstripe Bowl for their strong interest in selecting Pitt as the ACC representative. Our fans love New York City, and I know they are excited to rally around our team.
"We fully anticipate that Panther Nation will continue the great travel momentum established last year. I can't wait to see everyone in New York City."
Northwestern, which was 6-6 overall with a 5-4 mark in the Big Ten, will be making its second consecutive bowl appearance, seventh in the past nine years and 13th all-time.The Wildcats fell to No. 15 Western Michigan (one of two undefeated teams in the nation, along with No. 1 Alabama) in their season opener, and closed the season with a win vs. Illinois to become bowl-eligible.
George M. Steinbrenner, whom the New Era Pinstripe Bowl Trophy is named after, was once an assistant football coach at Northwestern in 1955. Current Yankees manager Joe Girardi is also a graduate of the university.
"We're overjoyed to accept an invitation to the 2016 Pinstripe Bowl and have the opportunity to compete against Pittsburgh in a unique game environment," said Northwestern vice president for athletics & recreation Jim Phillips. "This time of year is a tremendous experience for our student-athletes and fans, and we're grateful for one more opportunity to take the field.
"Beyond the University's deep ties to the Steinbrenner and Girardi families, New York City is home to the largest Wildcats alumni community outside Chicago. We can't wait to see them -- and hear them -- at Yankee Stadium later this month."
The 2016 New Era Pinstripe Bowl continues its relationship with the Big Ten and ACC, as both conferences have multiyear deals with the Yankees and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl to have a representative school play in the game.
"We are pleased and excited to welcome the student-athletes, staff and families of two great institutions in the University of Pittsburgh and Northwestern University to the 2016 New Era Pinstripe Bowl," said Mark Holtzman, executive director of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. "There's nothing quite like New York City during the holiday season, and we are confident that the entire bowl week will provide these two universities and their passionate fan bases a collection of unforgettable experiences."