The game kicks off at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 30th at Qualcomm Stadium. The game is a rematch of the 1998 Holiday Bowl, when the Wildcats overcame a third quarter deficit and defeated the Huskers 23-20 in front of 65,354 fans.
“We’re very pleased with this matchup,” said Warden. “Arizona and Nebraska met here eleven years ago and to date, it’s still one of the most successful games in our bowl’s history. We look forward to welcoming the thousands of fans from these two premier institutions back to our great city.”
Sixth-year head coach Mike Stoops brings his Wildcats to San Diego after leading his squad to an 8-4 overall record, 6-3 in the Pac-10. Their victory over USC yesterday in Los Angeles earned them a share of second place in the conference.
"We're thrilled to earn the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl bid the way we did in the last couple weeks, and excited to be in San Diego,” said Stoops. “Our players have worked hard all season for a reward like this, and will work hard to show what Arizona and the Pac-10 Conference are all about in the game itself."
Arizona is led by a balanced offense spearheaded by sophomore quarterback Nick Foles, and a top 25 defense that can apply pass pressure, defend the run and make things happen in the secondary. The Wildcats' return game features a pair of threats in Bug Wright and Travis Cobb. Running backs Nic Grigsby and Keola Antolin have combined for 1,100 yards and nine scores despite missed games, while receivers Terrell Turner and Juron Criner bring explosive energy on the edge.
Nebraska enters the game with a 9-4 record and has posted back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time since 2000 and 2001. The Huskers relied on a dominant defense to win its last five regular-season games before a one-point setback against Texas in the Big 12 Championship.
"Our players are looking forward to the opportunity to play another football game, and a trip to San Diego and the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl is a nice reward for the season they have had,” said Head Coach Bo Pelini. “Arizona has had an outstanding season, is extremely well-coached and will be a big challenge for our football team. We have a lot of players in our program from California and I know they will enjoy playing in their home state. I'm sure our Nebraska fans will also travel in full force to San Diego.”
Nebraska is led by senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh who is a finalist for no less than six major national awards. Suh leads the team with 82 tackles, 12 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, and 26 quarterback hurries, while adding 10 pass breakups and three blocked kicks. Nebraska is also strong on special teams led by junior Alex Henery, a dual threat as a punter and place-kicker, and junior return man Niles Paul who ranks among the Big 12's best returning both punts and kickoffs.
This will be the third time Arizona and Nebraska have faced each other. In addition to the 1998 Holiday Bowl, they played to a 14-14 tie in Lincoln on September 30th, 1961.
Tickets for the 2009 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl can be purchased by calling TicketMaster at 619-220-TIXS (8497), or by visiting www.PacificLifeHolidayBowl.com.