A Complete Guide and History of the Holiday Bowl

Credit: SDCCU

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2017 Holiday Bowl

The Holiday Bowl is widely accepted as one of the best non-New Year’s Six Bowl Games.

This is due to some wild games in the past that have helped decide a national champion.

The fact that two premier conferences play each other in this game (the PAC-12 and Big Ten) also helps.

Since its inception in 1978, the Holiday Bowl has had conference tie-ins with the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), Big 12, and currently the two conferences previously mentioned.

Here is a (nearly) complete guide to the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl and its history.

Most Frequent Teams (# of appearances)

  1. BYU, (11)

Unofficially nicknamed the “BYU Bowl” for much of the 80’s and 90’s, the Holiday Bowl hosted the BYU Cougars and several memorable games for the boys from Provo, Utah – some of which we will get to later. BYU is 4-6-1 in their Holiday Bowl games. They haven’t played in this game since 1993.

  1. Texas (5)

Yes, BYU has twice the amount of Holiday Bowl appearances as anyone else. The Longhorns come in at a distant second. Texas is 3-2 in those contests, most recently playing in 2011.

  1. Tied between Washington, Washington State (counting the upcoming 2017 game), Arizona State, Nebraska (4)

Washington State has made a late push, and counting 2017, will make their fourth appearance in the game.

None of these teams have a winning record in this game, with ASU going winless at 0-4.

Most Recent Game

December 27th, 2016

Washington State Cougars vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers

This game had some extra intrigue and drama that no other 2016 bowl had. Minnesota’s team was threatening an all-out boycott of this game. Ten Gophers football players had been suspended and their teammates were not happy with school administration. This game, if not for just a few moments, was actually in jeopardy of not being played at all. The Gophers ended their boycott about a week before the game.

Not surprisingly, this made Mike Leach’s WAZZU Cougars the favorites. However, this is why you play the game. Whether it was playing with extra emotion for Minnesota or the Cougars assuming the Gophers were too distracted, this game was turned on its head. Minnesota won 17-12 in a weird slugfest. WAZZU comes into the 2017 game hoping for redemption against Michigan State.

Conference Tie-In History

When it first started, the Holiday Bowl hosted the WAC champion and an at-large team.

Then in 1991, the Big 10 was granted an automatic bid. That lasted until 1995 when the Big 8 (now Big 12) took over that automatic bid.

The WAC had a place at the Holiday Bowl table until 1997, when it was given to the PAC-10. The PAC-10 and Big 12 played each other from 1998-2013, until 2014, when the Big 10 once again stepped in, replacing the Big 12.  Now you are all caught up and how it got to where it is at presently.

Now let’s take a look at some video of the most memorable games in the history of this bowl game.


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