UCLA will face North Carolina State in Tuesday’s 43rd annual Holiday Bowl, the first football game to be played at San Diego’s Petco Park.
The sale of SDCCU Stadium — where the Holiday Bowl had been played since its inaugural edition in 1978 through 2019 — to San Diego State University in 2020, and its demolition to make way for a west campus and Aztec Stadium, left the bowl game without a home.
The San Diego Padres announced a partnership with the San Diego Bowl Game Association in July allowing the Holiday Bowl to be played at Petco Park for a minimum of the next five years, beginning this year, dependent on City Council approval, which was granted later in July, overturning a previous ban on football at the downtown baseball stadium.
This will be the first time an Atlantic Coast Conference team has played in the Holiday Bowl. Under an agreement announced in 2019, the ACC will supply a team for the game at least through 2025. The agreement was supposed to begin with the 2020 game, which was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Big Ten Conference had supplied a team from 2014-19. The Pac-12 Conference has supplied a team for each game since the 1998 game.
The Holiday Bowl gets the third selection among Pac-12 Conference teams, with the Rose Bowl getting the conference champion and the Alamo Bowl getting the second choice. The Holiday Bowl is in a group with the Cheez-It Bowl and Gator Bowl that have the first picks among Atlantic Coast Conference teams following the New Year’s Six bowls.
UCLA will be playing in the game for the second time. The Bruins lost to Baylor, 49-26, in the 2012 game.
UCLA (8-4) enters the Holiday Bowl on a three-game winning streak. This is the first time since 2015 the Bruins have won at least eight games in a season. The last time they won more than eight games was 2014.
UCLA will be making its first bowl appearance since 2017 when it lost to Kansas State, 35-17, in the Cactus Bowl. UCLA’s bowl record is 16-19-1, including losses in its last two bowl games.
North Carolina State (9-3) has won four of its last five games. The Wolfpack were 18th in most recent Associated Press poll, which was released Dec. 5, three spots higher than the previous week. UCLA is unranked.
North Carolina State is playing in a bowl for the seventh time in eight seasons. It has a 17-15-1 bowl record, including losses in its last two bowl games.
This is the third meeting between the teams. UCLA won 21-12 in 1959 and 7-0 in 1960. The 1960 game was the last time the Wolfpack played in California before the Holiday Bowl.
The teams do not have a common opponent in 2021.
The pregame show will include a flyover by U.S. Coast Guard helicopters, members of the Leap Frogs, the U.S. Navy’s parachute team and Grammy nominee Taylor Dayne singing the national anthem.
Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. The game will be televised by Fox.