SAN DIEGO—The UCLA Bruins (8-4) will face the NO. 19 North Carolina State Wolfpack (9-3) in the San Diego Credit Union Holiday Bowl on Tuesday, December 28 at Petco Park, home of MLB’s San Diego Padres. In 2021, UCLA football has restored honor and pride for their program, reaching their first bowl game since 2017.
The Wolfpack and the Bruins faced similar obstacles and recent hot streaks on the road to San Diego. The final month of the season N. C. State won four of their final five games of the season, while the Bruins rattled off three straight victories, including a 62-33 drubbing of USC, to have their best season since 2014.
“Our players are fired up to get to play football in December,” said UCLA Head Coach Chip Kelly. After going 3-0 in November, players and coaches waited anxiously to find out which bowl game would select them. It was between the Alamo Bowl in Texas, the Las Vegas Bowl and of course, the Holiday Bowl which showed,” enthusiasm for UCLA, the beauty is that we were wanted,” explained UCLA’s Athletic Director Martin Jarmond.
UCLA previously played in the 2012 Holiday Bowl falling to Baylor, 49-26.
It will be Chip Kelly’s first bowl game as Head Coach of UCLA. Many Bruins fans were concerned Kelly might fly back to Oregon, his old stomping grounds. Fortunately, the Ducks hired Georgia Defensive Coordinator Dan Lanning instead. Kelly has transformed the UCLA Bruins over his four years in Westwood and will most likely sign a well-deserved contract extension.
UCLA has beat N.C. State in their two past meetings, defeating them 21-12 in 1959, and 7-0 in 1960.
“That Dave Doreen’s the head coach and they’re the Wolfpack,” said UCLA Head Coach Chip Kelly. Coach Kelly was right, but the Wolfpack’s story goes far deeper. N.C. State’s Head Coach Doreen will be making a homecoming. He was born on Coronado Island and lived in Los Angeles until the fourth grade.
Devin Leary is the dynamic quarterback of N.C. State, the Bruins secondary had better be careful. He threw for 3,433 yards, 35 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions.
UCLA averaged 36.5 points per game, leading the PAC-12. Bruins senior Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw for 2,409 yards, 21 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. DTR is also a dual threat, rushing for 609 yards and nine TDs.
This game has all the makings of a classic Holiday Bowl: chilly winds and a shootout resulting in tons of points and fireworks on and off the field.
This is the first year a team from the ACC has been invited to the Bowl, appearing under an arrangement that extends through the 2025 season. It will be the first time a football game will be played at Petco Park.
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 the next five years. The Holiday Bowl will kick-off at 5 p.m. and will air on FOX.
“We could not have asked for a more exciting matchup for the SDCCU Holiday Bowl’s first game in Petco Park,” said Mark Neville, CEO of the Holiday Bowl.