|San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl|
|Location||San Diego, California|
|Conference tie-ins||Pac-12 (1997–present)|
Big Ten (1991–94; 2014–present)
|Previous conference tie-ins||WAC (1978–97)|
Big 12 (1995–2013)
|Payout||US$2,825,000 (As of 2015[update])|
Holiday Bowl (1978–85)
Sea World Holiday Bowl (1986–90)
Thrifty Car Rental Holiday Bowl (1991–94)
Plymouth Holiday Bowl (1995–97)
Culligan Holiday Bowl (1998–2001)
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl (2002–09)
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (2010–12)
National University Holiday Bowl (2013–14)
National Funding Holiday Bowl (2015–16)
|Michigan State vs. Washington State (Michigan State 42–17)|
|Northwestern vs. Utah (Northwestern 31–20)|
The Holiday Bowl is a post-season NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision college football bowl game that has been played annually since 1978 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, California, United States. Since the 2014 edition, it has featured a matchup of Pac-12 and Big Ten teams. San Diego County Credit Union has been the game's title sponsor since 2017, and the bowl has been officially known as the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl.
The Holiday Bowl was founded to give the Western Athletic Conference an automatic bowl bid after the Fiesta Bowl, which previously had a tie in with the conference, ended its association with the WAC following Arizona and Arizona State (the latter of which served as the game's host) leaving the conference to join the Pacific-8 Conference in 1977. Thus, the Holiday Bowl inherited the Fiesta Bowl's former WAC ties and gave the conference's champion its automatic bid. For the first several years, the WAC champion played an at-large team in the Holiday Bowl. Beginning in 1991 and continuing until 1994, the Big Ten Conference was given the second bid, provided it had enough bowl eligible teams.
Beginning in 1995, the Big Eight Conference replaced the Big Ten and remained tied with the bowl through as the conference expanded to become the Big 12 the following year. The WAC's automatic bid was split, with first choice given to the Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas, and a team from the Pacific-10 Conference was added as the alternate pick (meaning that, if the WAC champion played in the Cotton Bowl, the Pac-10's team would play in the Holiday Bowl). The WAC ended its association with the Holiday Bowl after the 1997 game, and the game became a matchup between the Big 12 and Pac-10.
From 1998–2009, the matchup featured the #2 Pac-12 team playing the #3 Big 12 team, but the Alamo Bowl outbid the Holiday Bowl to feature that matchup beginning in 2010. Holiday Bowl Executive Director Bruce Binkowski stated that average ticket prices for the Holiday Bowl would have had to have been increased from $60 to $100 to match the Alamo Bowl's offer of a $3 million payout (the Holiday Bowl was only offering $2.35 million). The now-Pac-12 and Big 12 retained their contracts with the Holiday Bowl, however, and the 2010–2013 matchups pitted the #3 Pac-12 team against the #5 Big 12 team.
Effective with the 2014 game, the Big Ten signed a six-year contract to return after a 20-year absence to the Holiday Bowl, regaining the slot they held from 1991–1994. With this agreement, the Holiday Bowl now features the #3 Pac-12 team and the #4 Big Ten team.
Since 2017, the sponsor has been San Diego County Credit Union, which formerly sponsored San Diego's other bowl game, the now-defunct Poinsettia Bowl. In 2015 and 2016, the title sponsor was National Funding, a San Diego-based alternative lender. Previous sponsors have included SeaWorld, Thrifty Car Rental, Chrysler Corporation (through its Plymouth brand), Culligan, Pacific Life, Bridgepoint Education and National University.
For the first seven games, Brigham Young University represented the WAC as its champion. In the inaugural game on December 22, The Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy came in with an 8–3 record and a Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and then capped the remarkable season with a 23–16 comeback victory over the highly favored Cougars. BYU has played in a total of 11 Holiday Bowls, more than any other team. The 1980 game was known as "The Miracle Bowl" as BYU erased a 20-point Southern Methodist lead in the last 2 minutes of the game, tying the score on the last play of the game - a 60-yard pass from All-American quarterback Jim McMahon to tight end Clay Brown as time expired. BYU kicker Kurt Gunther added the go ahead extra point.
The 1983 game between BYU and Missouri had its own miraculous ending, as BYU rallied behind All-American quarterback Steve Young. With just 23 seconds left, Young gave a handoff to Eddie Stinnett. Stinnett then turned around and passed it back to Steve Young, who caught it and ran in for a touchdown, giving BYU a 21-17 win. Young achieved a rare feat in college football: one touchdown pass, one touchdown run, and one touchdown reception all in a single game. For his efforts, he was named offensive MVP.
One year later, BYU, led by their legendary coach, LaVell Edwards, won the national championship in the Holiday Bowl by defeating the University of Michigan Wolverines, coached by Bo Schembechler, 24–17. Because of the WAC's contract with the Holiday Bowl, BYU, #1 ranked and the only undefeated team in Division I-A going into that season's bowls, was obligated to play in the mid-tier Holiday Bowl against a mediocre (6–5) Michigan squad. Again, the Holiday Bowl came down to the final few plays. BYU drove the length of the field and scored on a pass from injured All-American quarterback Robbie Bosco to Kelly Smith with 1:23 remaining. Marv Allen, who also played in the very first Holiday Bowl as a redshirt freshman in 1978, sealed the victory with an interception. It was the first — and only — time that the title was won at the Holiday Bowl.
Rankings are based on the AP Poll prior to the game being played.
|Date Played||Winning team||Losing team||Attnd.||Notes|
|December 22, 1978||Navy||23||BYU||16||52,500||notes|
|December 21, 1979||Indiana||38||#9 BYU||37||52,500||notes|
|December 19, 1980||#14 BYU||46||#19 SMU||45||50,200||notes|
|December 18, 1981||#14 BYU||38||#20 Washington State||36||52,419||notes|
|December 17, 1982||#17 Ohio State||47||BYU||17||52,533||notes|
|December 23, 1983||#9 BYU||21||Missouri||17||51,480||notes|
|December 21, 1984||#1 BYU||24||Michigan||17||61,243||notes|
|December 22, 1985||#14 Arkansas||18||Arizona State||17||60,641||notes|
|December 30, 1986||#19 Iowa||39||San Diego State||38||59,473||notes|
|December 30, 1987||#18 Iowa||20||Wyoming||19||61,892||notes|
|December 30, 1988||#12 Oklahoma State||62||#15 Wyoming||14||60,641||notes|
|December 29, 1989||#18 Penn State||50||#19 BYU||39||61,113||notes|
|December 29, 1990||Texas A&M||65||#13 BYU||14||61,441||notes|
|December 30, 1991||BYU||13||#7 Iowa||13||60,646||notes|
|December 30, 1992||Hawaii||27||Illinois||17||44,457||notes|
|December 30, 1993||#11 Ohio State||28||BYU||21||52,108||notes|
|December 30, 1994||#20 Michigan||24||#10 Colorado State||14||59,453||notes|
|December 29, 1995||#10 Kansas State||54||Colorado State||21||51,051||notes|
|December 30, 1996||#8 Colorado||33||#13 Washington||21||54,749||notes|
|December 29, 1997||#18 Colorado State||35||#19 Missouri||24||50,761||notes|
|December 30, 1998||#5 Arizona||23||#14 Nebraska||20||65,354||notes|
|December 29, 1999||#7 Kansas State||24||Washington||20||57,118||notes|
|December 29, 2000||#8 Oregon||35||#12 Texas||30||63,278||notes|
|December 28, 2001||#9 Texas||47||#21 Washington||43||60,548||notes|
|December 27, 2002||#6 Kansas State||34||Arizona State||27||58,717||notes|
|December 30, 2003||#15 Washington State||28||#5 Texas||20||61,102||notes|
|December 30, 2004||#23 Texas Tech||45||#4 California||31||63,711||notes|
|December 29, 2005||Oklahoma||17||#6 Oregon||14||65,416||notes|
|December 28, 2006||#20 California||45||#21 Texas A&M||10||62,395||notes|
|December 27, 2007||#17 Texas||52||#12 Arizona State||34||64,020||notes|
|December 30, 2008||#15 Oregon||42||#13 Oklahoma State||31||59,106||notes|
|December 30, 2009||#20 Nebraska||33||#22 Arizona||0||64,607||notes|
|December 30, 2010||Washington||19||#17 Nebraska||7||57,921||notes|
|December 28, 2011||Texas||21||California||10||56,313||notes|
|December 27, 2012||Baylor||49||#17 UCLA||26||55,507||notes|
|December 30, 2013||Texas Tech||37||#16 Arizona State||23||52,930||notes|
|December 27, 2014||#24 USC||45||#25 Nebraska||42||55,789||notes|
|December 30, 2015||#23 Wisconsin||23||USC||21||48,329||notes|
|December 27, 2016||Minnesota||17||Washington State||12||48,704||notes|
|December 28, 2017||#19 Michigan State||42||#21 Washington State||17||47,092||notes|
|December 31, 2018||Northwestern||31||#20 Utah||20||47,007||notes|
The bowl names offensive and defensive MVPs; in some instances, co-MVPs have been named, or two offensive MVPs in lieu of a defensive MVP.
|Game||Offensive MVP||Defensive MVP|
|1978||Phil McConkey||Navy||WR||Tom Enlow||BYU||LB|
|1979||Marc Wilson||BYU||QB||Tim Wilbur||Indiana||CB|
|1981||Jim McMahon||BYU||QB||Kyle Whittingham||BYU||LB|
|1982||Tim Spencer||Ohio State||RB||Garcia Lane||Ohio State||CB|
|1983||Steve Young||BYU||QB||Bobby Bell||Missouri||DE|
|1984||Robbie Bosco||BYU||QB||Leon White||BYU||LB|
|1985||Bobby Joe Edmonds||Arkansas||RB||Greg Battle||Arizona State||LB|
San Diego State
|Richard Brown||San Diego State||LB|
|1987||Craig Burnett||Wyoming||QB||Anthony Wright||Iowa||CB|
|1988||Barry Sanders||Oklahoma State||RB||Sim Drain||Oklahoma State||LB|
|1990||Bucky Richardson||Texas A&M||QB||William Thomas||Texas A&M||LB|
|1991||Ty Detmer||BYU||QB||Josh Arnold
|1992||Michael Carter||Hawaii||QB||Junior Tagoai||Hawaii||DT|
|Lorenzo Styles||Ohio State||LB|
|1995||Brian Kavanagh||Kansas State||QB||Mario Smith||Kansas State||DB|
|1996||Koy Detmer||Colorado||QB||Nick Ziegler||Colorado||DE|
|1998||Keith Smith||Arizona||QB||Mike Rucker||Nebraska||DE|
|1999||Jonathan Beasley||Kansas State||QB||Darren Howard||Kansas State||DE|
|2000||Joey Harrington||Oregon||QB||Rashad Bauman||Oregon||DB|
|2002||Ell Roberson||Kansas State||QB||Terrell Suggs||Arizona State||DE|
|2003||Sammy Moore||Washington State||WR||Kyle Basler||Washington State||P|
|2004||Sonny Cumbie||Texas Tech||QB||Vincent Meeks||Texas Tech||DB|
|2005||Rhett Bomar||Oklahoma||QB||C. J. Ah You
|2007||Colt McCoy||Texas||QB||Brian Orakpo||Texas||DE|
|2008||Jeremiah Masoli||Oregon||QB||Jairus Byrd||Oregon||DB|
|2009||Niles Paul||Nebraska||WR||Matt O'Hanlon||Nebraska||DB|
|2010||Chris Polk||Washington||RB||Mason Foster||Washington||LB|
|2011||David Ash||Texas||QB||Keenan Robinson||Texas||LB|
|2012||Lache Seastrunk||Baylor||RB||Chris McAllister||Baylor||DE|
|2013||Davis Webb||Texas Tech||QB||Will Smith||Texas Tech||LB|
|2014||Cody Kessler||USC||QB||Leonard Williams||USC||DE|
|2015||Joel Stave||Wisconsin||QB||Jack Cichy||Wisconsin||LB|
|2016||Rodney Smith||Minnesota||RB||Blake Cashman||Minnesota||LB|
|2017||Brian Lewerke||Michigan State||QB||Chris Frey||Michigan State||LB|
|2018||Clayton Thorson||Northwestern||QB||JR Pace||Northwestern||S|
Updated through the December 2018 edition (41 games, 82 total appearances).
- Teams with multiple appearances
- Teams with a single appearance
- With Utah's appearance in the 2018 Holiday Bowl, every Pac-12 school except Stanford has appeared in the game (Colorado appeared while a member of the Big 12).
- Iowa State, TCU and West Virginia are the only current or former Big 12 members to have never played in the game.
Appearances by conference
Updated through the December 2018 edition (41 games, 82 total appearances).
|Conference||Record||Appearances by season|
|Pac-12||24||7||17||0||.292||1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014||1981, 1985, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018|
|Big 12||18||11||7||0||.611||1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013||1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010|
|WAC||18||6||11||1||.361||1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1992, 1997||1978, 1979, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995||1991|
|Big Ten||14||10||3||1||.750||1979, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1993, 1994, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018||1984, 1992, 2014||1991|
|Big Eight||3||2||1||0||.667||1988, 1995||1983|
- Pac-12 record includes appearances when the conference was known as the Pac-10 (before 2011).
- Independent appearances: Navy (1978), Penn State (1989)
The Holiday Bowl was broadcast by ESPN from 1980 through 2016 (except in 1985, when it was broadcast by USA Network instead), which was one of the network's longest relationships. In 2017, the game moved to Fox Sports 1.
- "College Bowl Game Payouts". 25 November 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- "Holiday Bowl drops down in the pecking order".
- Tim Griffin (August 28, 2008). "Valero Alamo Bowl, Pacific-10 Conference agree on deal starting in 2010 season". Retrieved 2009-08-31.
- De Crecenzo, Sarah (March 9, 2017). "S.D. County Credit Union to Sponsor Holiday Bowl". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
- De Crecenzo, Sarah (October 27, 2016). "National Funding Will Be Title Sponsor of Holiday Bowl". San Diego Business Journal. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
- "Holiday Bowl moving from ESPN to FS1". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 17 June 2017.