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Holiday Bowl matches UCLA and North Carolina State for game's Petco Park debut

San Diego Union Tribune logo San Diego Union Tribune 12/5/2021 Kirk Kenney
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson powers the Bruins high-scoring offense. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press) © (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press) UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson powers the Bruins high-scoring offense. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The SDCCU Holiday Bowl located one team up the road and another one across the country to celebrate its downtown debut at Petco Park.

No. 18 North Carolina State and UCLA have been invited to San Diego for the 43rd annual bowl game, matching Power Five schools from the ACC and Pac-12 for the first time in the bowl's history.

"We're excited to bring nationally-ranked North Carolina State, with a really great offense and fun style of football, SDCCU Holiday Bowl director Mark Neville said, "and putting them up against UCLA, which is on fire of late and scoring a ton of points. They took it to their rival USC and put 62 points up on them.

"Couple this with our first game inside Petco Park and the excitement and everything that's surrounding that, and I think this matchup will be one of the premier matchups in the country. Fans will have a Power Five matchup and all the pageantry and fun, all the atmosphere of downtown and Petco Park."

North Carolina State (9-3), which has won four of its past five games, finished second to Wake Forest this season in the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Wolfpack comes into the contest averaging 33.1 points a game in a season highlighted with victories over Clemson (27-21) and North Carolina (34-30).

UCLA (8-4) rallied down the stretch with three straight victories — over Colorado (44-20), USC (62-33) and Cal (42-14) — with one of the most potent scoring offenses in the nation averaging 36.5 points a game.

N.C. State and UCLA have not met on a football field in 61 years, dating to back-to-back seasons in 1959-60 when the Bruins won a pair of home games by 21-12 and 7-0 scores.

This is the first appearance for an ACC school in the Holiday Bowl. It would have happened last year in a new contract that runs through the 2025 season, but the game went dark during the coronavirus pandemic.

This is UCLA's second appearance here. In 2012, the Bruins lost 49-26 to Baylor when the Pac-12 was matched against the Big 12.

Holiday Bowl ticket prices start at $90. Tickets can be purchased online at holidaybowl.com, by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

Tuesday, Dec. 28, 5 p.m. (Fox), Petco Park

Expected payout: $3.2 million per team.

Conference tie-ins: ACC vs. Pac-12.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

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