UCLA will face North Carolina State in the Holiday Bowl at Petco Park in San Diego on Dec. 28, in the Bruins' first bowl game since 2017, organizers announced today. The Bruins will be playing in the Holiday Bowl for the second time. UCLA lost to Baylor, 49-26, in the 2012 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.
The Bruins (8-4) will enter the game on a three-game winning streak, while North Carolina State (9-3) has won four of its last five games. The Wolfpack were 18th in The Associated Press poll released Sunday, three spots higher than the previous week. UCLA is unranked. The Bruins will be making their first bowl appearance since 2017 when they lost to Kansas State, 35-17, in the Cactus Bowl.
This will be the first time an ACC 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 Holiday Bowl will be the first football game at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. The 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 San Diego City Council approval which was granted later in July.
Football had been previously prohibited at 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, had left the bowl game without a home.
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