SAN DIEGO — USC will face Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl Dec. 30 at Qualcomm Stadium, organizers announced Sunday.
The Holiday Bowl gets the second choice among Pac-12 Conference teams following the New Year’s Six games. The Alamo Bowl selected Oregon and the Holiday Bowl picked USC, even though the Trojans played in the game last year, defeating Nebraska, 45-42.
“This is something that just worked out for us,” said Mark Neville, the executive director of San Diego Bowl Game Association, which operates the Holiday Bowl and the other bowl game played at Qualcomm Stadium, the Poinsettia Bowl.
“We saw this as a great opportunity for us to put on a championship- caliber football game for our fans in San Diego.”
The Holiday Bowl’s contract with the 14-team Big Ten Conference guarantees it a “top-tier team,” Neville said.
The conference had three teams in the New Year’s Six games — conference champion Michigan State (Cotton Bowl); West Division champion Iowa (Rose Bowl); and Ohio State (Fiesta Bowl).
Conference officials then decided how to assign the next three teams — Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin — to the Holiday Bowl, the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida and the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida, Neville said.
“Since Wisconsin had been to Florida the last two years, the Big Ten Conference fortunately sent them our way,” Neville told City News Service.
Wisconsin (9-3) will be making its first appearance in the Holiday Bowl, which has been played annually since 1978.
This is the first meeting between the teams since 1966. USC leads the series, 6-0, including a memorable 42-37 victory in the 1963 Rose Bowl Game. The Trojans led 42-17 in the fourth quarter when Ron VanderKelen led the Badgers on three touchdown drives in a comeback that ended when Wisconsin’s Louis Holland fumbled away a punt.