SAN DIEGO–Marking both teams’ first-ever Holiday Bowl appearance, the University of Utah (No. 17) and Northwestern University (No. 22) have accepted invitations to play in the 41st annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl. The college football bowl game is scheduled for Dec. 31 at 4 p.m. on FS1 at SDCCU Stadium. Champions of the Big Ten West Division in 2018, Northwestern finished the regular season 8-5 (and 8-1 in the Big Ten). The Wildcats notched victories against top-25 ranked teams Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa. The team is led by 13th-year Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald. Champions of the Pac-12 South Division in 2018, Utah completed the regular season 9-4 (and 6-3 in the Pac-12), including a victory against 14th-ranked Stanford. Head Coach Kyle Whittingham is in his 14th year leading the program. The Utes have an overall bowl game record of 17-4, including bowl game wins in each of the past five years. Both teams feature strong defenses. Utah finished the regular season ranked 17th nationally in scoring defense, allowing an average of 19.3 points per game. Senior linebacker Chase Hansen ranks seventh nationally in tackles for loss with 22. Other standouts include junior defensive lineman Bradlee Anae (eight sacks) and sophomore defensive back Jaylon Johnson (four interceptions). Northwestern’s defense finished ranked No. 29 in the nation in scoring defense, giving up an average of 21.7 points per game. The Wildcats are led by junior defensive lineman Joe Gaziano (six sacks) and sophomore linebacker Blake Gallagher (112 total tackles). The Utes’ offense averaged 30.8 points per game and is led by redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Shelley, who took over last month for injured starter Tyler Huntley. The Wildcats’ offense averaged 21.7 points per game and is led by senior quarterback Clayton Thorson. Northwestern led the nation in fewest penalties per game (average of 2.83), while Utah committed 5.2 per game (38th-fewest in the nation). Utah and Northwestern have played head-to-head twice, with the series tied 1-1. The two teams last played in 1981. Current ticket prices range from $45 to $175. Family 4-Packs are also available for $240 and include (4) loge level tickets, (4) hot dogs and (4) sodas. Tickets can be purchased through the San Diego Bowl Game Association’s office at SDCCU Stadium at Window B Weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by calling TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000. They are also available online at www.HolidayBowl.com This year’s game will be televised nationally on FS1. Each year the SDCCU Holiday Bowl matches up football teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences. In addition, the game is simulcast in Spanish on FOX Deportes. Pregame coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. This year’s Utah vs. Northwestern match-up marks the Holiday Bowl’s second straight paring of teams that are ranked nationally in the top 25. Last year’s game matched No. 16 Michigan State University against No. 18 Washington State University. The SDCCU Holiday Bowl is a nonprofit organization and has a mission of generating tourism, exposure, economic benefit and civic pride for San Diego and its citizens by producing the nation’s most exciting bowl game and festival of events.