The Holiday Bowl, officially the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl for sponsorship purposes, is a post-season NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision college football bowl game that has been played annually since 1978 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, California, United States. Since the 2014 edition, it has featured a matchup of Pac-12 and Big Ten teams.
The Holiday Bowl was founded to give the Western Athletic Conference an automatic bowl bid after the Fiesta Bowl, which previously had a tie in with the conference, ended its association with the WAC following Arizona and Arizona State (the latter of which served as the game's host) leaving the conference to join the Pacific-8 Conference in 1977. Thus, the Holiday Bowl inherited the Fiesta Bowl's former WAC ties and gave the conference's champion its automatic bid. For the first several years, the WAC champion played an at-large team in the Holiday Bowl. Beginning in 1991 and continuing until 1994, the Big Ten Conference was given the second bid, provided it had enough bowl eligible teams.
Beginning in 1995, the Big Eight Conference replaced the Big Ten and remained tied with the bowl through as the conference expanded to become the Big 12 the following year. The WAC's automatic bid was split, with first choice given to the Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas, and a team from the Pacific-10 Conference was added as the alternate pick (meaning that, if the WAC champion played in the Cotton Bowl, the Pac-10's team would play in the Holiday Bowl). The WAC ended its association with the Holiday Bowl after the 1997 game, and the game became a matchup between the Big 12 and Pac-10.
From 1998–2009, the matchup featured the #2 Pac-12 team playing the #3 Big 12 team, but the Alamo Bowl outbid the Holiday Bowl to feature that matchup beginning in 2010. Holiday Bowl Executive Director Bruce Binkowski stated that average ticket prices for the Holiday Bowl would have had to have been increased from $60 to $100 to match the Alamo Bowl's offer of a $3 million payout (the Holiday Bowl was only offering $2.35 million). The now-Pac-12 and Big 12 retained their contracts with the Holiday Bowl, however, and the 2010–2013 matchups pitted the #3 Pac-12 team against the #5 Big 12 team.
Effective with the 2014 game, the Big Ten signed a six-year contract to return after a 20-year absence to the Holiday Bowl, regaining the slot they held from 1991–1994. With this agreement, the Holiday Bowl now features the #3 Pac-12 team and the #4 Big Ten team.