SAN DIEGO—The Arizona Wildcats and the Nebraska Cornhuskers will face each other in the 2009 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl on Wednesday, December 30. The game will be played at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. PST and will be televised on ESPN. This is the second time that the Holiday Bowl has pitted Arizona against Nebraska. In 1998, The Wildcats defeated the Cornhuskers 23-20.
Arizona makes its second straight bowl appearance. The Wildcat football program was a regular participant in bowl games during the 80s and 90s but went through tough times during the 2000s. Arizona defeated BYU 31-21 in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl.
Nebraska is no stranger to the post season; in fact, the Cornhuskers have 46 conference champions and five national championships. Nebraska is making its ninth bowl game this decade. Last year the Cornhuskers defeated the Clemson Tigers 26-21 in the Gator Bowl.
Arizona comes into this game ranked 20th in the BCS Standings, 22nd in the AP Top 25 Poll and 23th in the Coaches Poll. The Wildcats finished with an overall record of 8-4 (6-3 second place finish in the Pac-10 Conference). Arizona opened the season winning their first six of eight games. However, the Wildcats stumbled in their next two: losing at Cal 24-16 and losing at home to then No. 11 Oregon 44-41 in overtime. Arizona struggled to beat in-state rival Arizona State 21-17 then stunned then No. 18 USC 21-17 in the Los Angeles.
Nebraska comes into this game ranked 22nd in the BCS Standings, 20th in the AP Top 25 Poll and 19th in the Coaches Poll. The Cornhuskers finished with an overall record of 9-4 (6-2 first place finish in the Big 12 Conference North). Nebraska struggled in the first part of their season winning only four of seven games, including a 9-7 loss to Iowa State in the seventh game of the season. However, the Cornhuskers regrouped to win their next five games, including a 10-3 victory over conference rival Oklahoma. Nebraska lost their last regular season game to then No. 3 Texas 13-12 on a last-second field goal.
Arizona is averaging 29.7 points per game on an average of 407 total yards per game. Leading the offense is sophomore quarterback Nick Foles. Foles has completed 251-of-380 passes for 2641 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Foles’ two favorite receivers are senior Terrell Turner and sophomore Juron Criner. Turner has 450 yards receiving on 47 receptions and four touchdowns. Criner has 480 yards receiving on 43 receptions and nine touchdowns. Leading the rushing attack for the Wildcats is sophome Keola Antolin and junior Nic Grigsby. Antolin has 568 yards on 103 carries and four touchdowns. Grigsby has 559 yards on 75 carries and five touchdowns. Defensively, Arizona gives up 23.2 points per game.
Nebraska is averaging 24.5 points per game on an average of 317 total yards per game. Leading the offense is junior quarterback Zac Lee. Lee has completed 164-of-279 passes for 1970 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Lee’s favorite receiver is junior Niles Paul. Paul has 673 yards receiving on 36 receptions and three touchdowns. Leading the rushing attack for the Cornhuskers is 1000-yard rusher Roy Helu Jr. Helu, a junior, has 1,139 yards on 217 carries and nine touchdowns. Defensively, Arizona gives up 11.2 points per game.