|National University Holiday Bowl|
|Location||San Diego, California|
|Conference tie-ins||Pac-12, Big Ten|
|Previous conference tie-ins||WAC (1978–1997)
Big 12 (1995–2013)
|Payout||US$2,350,000 (As of 2009[update])|
Holiday Bowl (1978–1985)
Sea World Holiday Bowl (1986–1990)
Thrifty Car Rental Holiday Bowl (1991–1994)
Plymouth Holiday Bowl (1995–1997)
Culligan Holiday Bowl (1998–2001)
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl (2002–2009)
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (2010–2012)
|Nebraska vs. USC (USC 45–42)|
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 Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California, United States. The 2014 edition will feature Pacific-12 and Big Ten teams.
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 game, ended its association with the WAC after Arizona and Arizona State (the latter of which served as the game's host) left 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 1986 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 has remained tied with the bowl as the conference expanded to become the Big 12. 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 playing, and the game has since become a permanent matchup between the Big 12 and now-Pac-12.
As of 2010, the Holiday Bowl matches the third place Pac-12 team and the 5th place Big 12 team. Previously, the matchup featured the second place Pac-12 team playing the third place Big 12 team, but the Alamo Bowl outbid the Holiday Bowl to feature that matchup.
According to Bruce Binkowski, the Holiday's executive director, 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 $3 million (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.
For 2014 and beyond, the Pac-12 and Big Ten Conferences will play in the Holiday Bowl. The #3 team in the Pac-12 will play the #4 team in the Big Ten.
Previous sponsors have included SeaWorld, Thrifty Car Rental, Chrysler Corporation (through its Plymouth brand), Culligan and Pacific Life. On October 8, 2013, National University signed on to replace Bridgepoint Education as the bowl's title sponsor.
One of the more popular (yet unusual) events associated with the Holiday Bowl is the Wiener Nationals, the national championships for the U.S. dachshund racing circuit. The game is also celebrated with the Big Bay Balloon Parade, organized by the Port of San Diego and currently sponsored by San Diego County Credit Union.
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, or any other December bowl game.
|T20||San Diego State||1||0–1|
- Tim Griffin (August 28, 2008). "Valero Alamo Bowl, Pacific-10 Conference agree on deal starting in 2010 season". Retrieved 2009-08-31.
- "Holiday Bowl drops down in the pecking order".