This year, the game could turn out to be a lopsided matchup.
Kansas State, the highest-ranked team not to earn a berth in the Bowl Championship Series, is an 18-point favorite, the most one-sided point spread of any bowl game this season.
The Holiday Bowl normally gets the Pac-10 Conference runner-up, but with Washington State and Southern California earning BCS berths, the game at Qualcomm Stadium instead went with Arizona State, which struggled during the second half of the season.
The Sun Devils (8-5) allowed 133 points during a three-game losing streak that was halted with a 34-20 win over Arizona.
The recent slide was surprising since the Sun Devils feature defensive end Terrell Suggs, who set an NCAA record with 22 sacks and won the Lombardi Award as the nation's top collegiate lineman.
Kansas State (10-2) has been playing as good as any team in the country since the middle of October. The Wildcats closed the regular season with a five-game winning streak in which they averaged 50.6 points.
Kansas State relies on a run-oriented offense and an aggressive defense. Darren Sproles rushed for a school-record 1,347 yards while quarterback Ell Roberson passed for 1,365 yards and ran for 965 more.
On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats rely heavily on cornerback Terence Newman, who won the Thorpe Award as the top defensive back in the college ranks.
One of the game's best matchups could be Newman guarding Arizona State wideout Shaun McDonald, who caught 76 passes this season with 13 touchdowns.
Sun Devils quarterback Andrew Walter has four games with at least 400 yards passing this season with 26 touchdowns. But he also has thrown 14 interceptions.
Kansas State returns to the Holiday Bowl for the second time in four years after losing to Washington, 24-20, in 1999.
Arizona State last played in the game in 1985, when it lost to Arkansas, 18-17.
The Sun Devils have won all five meetings with Kansas State but the teams have not met since 1989.
Texas defeated Washington, 47-43, in last year's Holiday Bowl and the last four games have been decided by five points or less.