SAN DIEGO -- The bowl season has already begun in College Football, but one of the better matchups kicks off when Pac-12 powerhouse USC (8-5) takes on Big-10 goliath, Wisconsin (9-3), in the Holiday Bowl on Wednesday night from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
Wisconsin brings the nation's No. 1 ranked defense into Southern California to tackle the Trojans high-octane offense. The Badgers have held opponents this year to an average of 13.1 points per game, whereas the Trojans are scoring at a clip of 35 points per game.
Something's got to give on the battlefield on Wednesday night as the age-old question of would you rather have the best defense or the best offense may finally be answered. The game itself, might also lend some foreshadowing to the New Year's Day Rose Bowl matchup between Stanford and Iowa as USC and Wisconsin mirror their Pac-12 and Big-10 champions as far as style of play.
USC head coach Clay Helton had the interim tag removed from his title before the Trojans loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game and seeks his second bowl win as coach of Southern Cal.
"To be in our second back-to-back Holiday Bowl is exciting for us," Helton said of the bowl game. "I think it shows progress."
Similar to Helton, it's been an up-and-down year for Wisconsin's coach Paul Chryst. Wisconsin's only losses came at the hands of Alabama, Iowa and Northwestern, and a win on Wednesday would mean the Badgers secure a second consecutive double-digit win season.
"I feel fortunate to come into the group that I was able to come in with," Chryst said of taking over the reigns of Wisconsin this season. "USC is explosive and dynamic and present a lot of challenges to us."
USC and quarterback Cody Kessler are playing in their second straight Holiday Bowl, and the fifth-year senior QB would love nothing more than to end his collegiate career on a high-note before heading to the NFL. In order for that to happen, Kessler might have to win the game with his arm as Wisconsin's greatest strength is its run defense.
That means gaudy numbers for the Trojans receivers as the Badgers will try to bottle up JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steven Mitchell Jr, Darreus Rogers and Adoree' Jackson. The "fearsome four" receiving corps is one of the tops in the country, with Sophomore Smith-Schuster leading the group as the No. 7 receiver in the nation.
The Trojans have struggled with elite defenses before this season, but have the weapons on offense to score against anybody. The Trojans defense is better than the Badgers offense, and while we know Wisconsin will be able to slow down the Trojans, the better question will be can they score themselves.
The game kicks off at 7:30PM PST on Wednesday December 30, 2015 from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA. It will air live on ESPN and can be live streamed with Watch ESPN app.
2015 @HolidayBowlGame: @USC_Athletics vs. @BadgerFootball https://t.co/WfVcsHy3YX pic.twitter.com/w7WLZ1YSMK — Holiday Bowl (@HolidayBowlGame) December 6, 2015