|Location||San Diego, California|
|Conference tie-ins||Pac-12 (1997–present)
Big Ten (1986–94; 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)
|Wisconsin vs. USC (Wisconsin 23–21)|
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. Since the 2014 edition, it has featured Pac-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 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 1986–1994. With this agreement, the Holiday Bowl now features the #3 Pac-12 team and the #4 Big Ten team.
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.
|Date Played||Winning Team||Losing Team||notes|
|December 22, 1978||Navy||23||BYU||16||notes|
|December 21, 1979||Indiana||38||BYU||37||notes|
|December 19, 1980||BYU||46||SMU||45||notes|
|December 18, 1981||BYU||38||Washington State||36||notes|
|December 17, 1982||Ohio State||47||BYU||17||notes|
|December 23, 1983||BYU||21||Missouri||17||notes|
|December 21, 1984||BYU||24||Michigan||17||notes|
|December 22, 1985||Arkansas||18||Arizona State||17||notes|
|December 30, 1986||Iowa||39||San Diego State||38||notes|
|December 30, 1987||Iowa||20||Wyoming||19||notes|
|December 30, 1988||Oklahoma State||62||Wyoming||14||notes|
|December 29, 1989||Penn State||50||BYU||39||notes|
|December 29, 1990||Texas A&M||65||BYU||14||notes|
|December 30, 1991 ||BYU||13||Iowa||13||notes|
|December 30, 1992||Hawaii||27||Illinois||17||notes|
|December 30, 1993||Ohio State||28||BYU||21||notes|
|December 30, 1994||Michigan||24||Colorado State||14||notes|
|December 29, 1995||Kansas State||54||Colorado State||21||notes|
|December 30, 1996||Colorado||33||Washington||21||notes|
|December 29, 1997||Colorado State||35||Missouri||24||notes|
|December 30, 1998||Arizona||23||Nebraska||20||notes|
|December 29, 1999||Kansas State||24||Washington||20||notes|
|December 29, 2000||Oregon||35||Texas||30||notes|
|December 28, 2001||Texas||47||Washington||43||notes|
|December 27, 2002||Kansas State||34||Arizona State||27||notes|
|December 30, 2003||Washington State||28||Texas||20||notes|
|December 30, 2004||Texas Tech||45||California||31||notes|
|December 29, 2005||Oklahoma||17||Oregon||14||notes|
|December 28, 2006||California||45||Texas A&M||10||notes|
|December 27, 2007||Texas||52||Arizona State||34||notes|
|December 30, 2008||Oregon||42||Oklahoma State||31||notes|
|December 30, 2009||Nebraska||33||Arizona||0||notes|
|December 30, 2010||Washington||19||Nebraska||7||notes|
|December 28, 2011||Texas||21||California||10||notes|
|December 27, 2012||Baylor||49||UCLA||26||notes|
|December 30, 2013||Texas Tech||37||Arizona State||23||notes|
|December 27, 2014||USC||45||Nebraska||42||notes|
|December 30, 2015||Wisconsin||23||USC||21||notes|
|T20||San Diego State||1||0–1|
- "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.
- "San Diego Bowl Games". San Diego Bowl Games. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- "Bears Blast Aggies To Win Holiday Bowl - Lynch's 111 yards and two touchdowns pace a 45-10 Golden Bears win.". CalBears.com (University of California at Berkeley). December 28, 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
- "McCoy fumbles four times, but Texas still routs Arizona State in Holiday Bowl". espn.com (ESPN). December 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
- "Reflections on NFL, ESPN, FinishLine.com and The New York Giants". Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- "Rivals.com College Football - Holiday Bowl: California vs. Texas A&M". Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- "2005 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl: Oregon vs. Oklahoma". goducks.com. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- "2004 Holiday Bowl". Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- 1999 Holiday Bowl Intro. 26 August 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2015 – via YouTube.