In collaboration with M!KEDROPSPORTS

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

Utah Utes (9-4) vs Northwestern Wildcats (8-5)

Date: Monday, December 31 at 6 pm CT

Location: SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, California

Bowl history

Originated: 1978

History of Conferences: PAC-12 is just 7-16 in this game while the Big Ten has won the last three years. 

Last year’s game: Michigan State beat Washington State 42-17

Utah bowl history

Coach Kyle Whittingham is 10-1 in bowl games at Utah, dating back to 2005. Their last loss came to Boise State in the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl. Their only Big Ten opponent in a bowl game came in 2016 when they beat Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl. While they have never played in the Holiday Bowl, they are 2-0 in the Poinsettia Bowl, a defunct game that was also in San Diego. 

Northwestern bowl history  

Northwestern is just 4-10 all-time in bowl games. Between 1995-2011, the Wildcats lost all nine bowl games they played in. Since snapping that skid in 2012, they have won three of the last four, including each of the last two years. 

Series history

The Holiday Bowl will be the first all-time meeting between these schools.

Game Notes

Players to watch 

Utah: Tyler Huntley QB (questionable to play) – 12 pass TDs, 4 rush TDs

Northwestern: Clayton Thorson, QB – 15 pass TDs, 9 rush TDs

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For the first time since joining the PAC-12 in 2011, the Utes won the PAC-12 South, playing in their first PAC-12 Championship. They lost to Washington, but this season as a whole has to be considered a big success. The Utes have a chance to win their 10th game for just the second time since joining the PAC-12 (first since 2015). After losing to both Washington teams early in the year, Utah ended the regular season winning seven of their last eight. They won the last two, despite losing QB Tyler Huntley along with RB Zach Moss to injuries.


What a year for Northwestern, who became the first team to win their division despite a winless non-conference record. Northwestern lost to Notre Dame (fine), Duke (eh), as well as Akron (yikes). Also, the Wildcats started 1-3, before getting on a roll, finishing the year 8-1 in Big Ten play.

Final Analysis 

Consider the Holiday Bowl the anti-Rose Bowl Game. Both teams had a chance to win their conference championships and instead will settle for a game with a lot of history and a little bit of prestige. This is a deserving stage for both teams, who have a chance to further validate this year’s accomplishments.

For more college football talk, you can follow me at M!KEDROPSPORTS, on twitter @msschneid or instagram @mikedropsports

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