The USC Trojans enter a college football game. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
The USC Trojans enter a college football game. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The USC football team arrived in San Diego Saturday to begin a series of activities leading up to Wednesday’s 38th annual Holiday Bowl against Wisconsin at Qualcomm Stadium.

The Trojans were greeted by bowl officials as they stepped off a bus at the Marriott Marquis Hotel & Marina as a mariachi band played.

USC will visit the San Diego Zoo on Sunday and join the Badgers in a tour Monday of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which was based in Norfolk, Virginia, but has been homeported in San Diego since last month.

The Trojans will practice at Southwestern College in Chula Vista.

USC is making a rare second consecutive appearance in the Holiday Bowl. Outside of conference champions, bowls rarely have the same team play in consecutive years, fearing fans will not make a repeat visit to the same city.

The Holiday Bowl gets the second choice among Pac-12 Conference teams following the New Year’s Six games. The Alamo Bowl selected Oregon and the Holiday Bowl picked the Trojans, even though they defeated Nebraska, 45-42, in last year’s game.

“This is something that just worked out for us,” said Mark Neville, executive director of San Diego Bowl Game Association, which operates the Holiday Bowl and the other bowl game played at Qualcomm Stadium, the Poinsettia Bowl.

“We saw this as a great opportunity for us to put on a championship- caliber football game for our fans in San Diego.”

This is the first meeting between the teams since 1966. USC leads the series, 6-0, including a memorable 42-37 victory in the 1963 Rose Bowl Game.

The Trojans led 42-17 in the fourth quarter when Ron VanderKelen led the Badgers on three touchdown drives in a comeback that ended when Wisconsin’s Louis Holland fumbled away a punt.

Various oddsmakers have made USC (8-5) a 3 1/2-point favorite over the Badgers (9-3). ESPN’s Football Power Index gives the Trojans a 67.1 percent chance of winning.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.