The Holiday Bowl has been in existence since 1978, and has stayed in the same location since the very first game — San Diego, California. The game is played at Qualcomm Stadium, and has had a number of different conference alignments as well as title sponsors.
The game has been presented by SeaWorld, Thrifty Car Rental, Plymouth, Culligan, and Pacific Life Insurance. It is now known as the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
The current agreement matches up the 3rd place Pac-12 team against the 5th place Big 12 team, but this has not always been the case. The original agreement pitted the champion of the WAC against an at-large opponent. Of course, this led to BYU playing in the first seven Holiday Bowls as they typically dominated the WAC in the late 1970s and 1980s.
The Holiday Bowl has two pretty memorable moments, both of them featuring BYU. In 1980, BYU was losing by 20 points with four minutes remaining against Southern Methodist University. BYU was able to erase this deficit and won on the very last play of the game. In 1984, BYU was crowned as the National Champion after defeating the University of Michigan in the Holiday Bowl — the only time in history that a December bowl game decided the National Championship. This was due to the WAC’s contract with the Holiday Bowl which matched up BYU against a Michigan team that was 6-5 that season.
There have been 28 different teams that have played in the Holiday Bowl, and 18 of these teams have played in at least two Holiday Bowls (see chart below for the appearances and record for each team who have appeared in at least two Holiday Bowls.) Tonight’s game features University of Texas from the Big 12 against the University of California from the Pac-12 (which can be OtherScreened tonight starting at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN.)
Click chart to open larger version