San Diego it is. The USC Trojans are headed to the National University Holiday Bowl for the first time in history, set to face a Big Ten team on December 27th in Qualcomm Stadium according to Bryan Fischer. The game will kick off at 5:00 p.m. on ESPN.
UPDATE: USC will face Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl, as confirmed by the school. For more on the matchup, click here.
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Despite existing since the 1970s and having an on-again, off-again Pac-12 conference tie in, the Holiday Bowl has never hosted USC. Since 1997 the bowl pitted the Pac-12 against the Big 12, with the most recent tie-in matching up the former’s second place team with the latter’s fifth place team.
In this case, the Trojans will kick off a new tie-in between the Pac-12’s third place team and Big 10’s fourth place team.
USC finished the season with a 6-3 record in conference and sitting in a three-way tie with Arizona State and UCLA for the third spot in the Pac-12.
Rumors had swirled in the lead up to this week that the Trojans were an attractive option for the Holiday Bowl, boasting a regional advantage, strong traveling crowd, and national appeal. When the Alamo Bowl elected to take UCLA to San Antonio, the door was opened for the Holiday Bowl to pounce on USC.
The most likely potential opponents are Wisconsin and Nebraska.
The Badgers finished atop the Big 10 West Division standings with a 10-3 record overall but fell to Ohio State in the conference championship game. Like USC, they have never appeared in the Holiday Bowl.
The Cornhuskers finished second in the Big 10 West Division with a 9-3 overall record but dropped two of their last three games. A victory over Iowa in the final game of the season could not save head coach Bo Pelini’s job, leaving interim head coach Barney Cotton in charge for the bowl game. Newly hired head coach, Mike Riley, will take over following the game. This would be Nebraska’s third appearance at the Holiday Bowl.
Last year, the Sun Devils fell to Texas Tech in San Diego, 37-23.