The Bulldogs will be spending Christmas in Hawaii this postseason.
Fresno State, which concluded the regular season as a co-champion of the Mountain West Conference, accepted a bid to play in the 2012 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Athletic Director Thomas Boeh announced Sunday.
Fresno State will play Conference USA representative Southern Methodist University on Christmas Eve at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
A win against SMU would give the Bulldogs (9-3, 7-1) their first 10-win season since 2001.
“We are pleased and excited to receive an invitation to participate in the 2012 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and look forward to playing a highly respected Southern Methodist University team,” Boeh said in a statement.
“The Island of Oahu is, of course, a world-renowned destination known for both its spectacular attractions and unsurpassed hospitality. Our players, staff and fans will undoubtedly thoroughly enjoy many of the offerings of the Aloha State as we prepare to represent the Mountain West Conference in what should be a terrific football game,” Boeh added.
The game, televised nationally by ESPN, will kickoff at 5 p.m. PT.
Fresno State, bowl eligible this year after going 4-9 in 2011 and missing out on the postseason, will face off against an SMU team that finished 6-6 overall and 5-3 in conference play.
The Bulldogs have faced the Mustangs six previous times when both teams were members of the Western Athletic Conference from 1999-’04. In that time span, the Bulldogs were 5-1.
Fresno State routed SMU 42-0 on Oct. 30, 2004, the last time both teams met.
Head coach Tim DeRuyter (@TimDeRuyter) took to Twitter and his 4,800 followers to announce his response.
“Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) Red Wave! Big test vs. June Jones’ SMU team on Christmas Eve. It’s the Most wonderful time of the year! #bowlin,” DeRuyter tweeted shortly after the announcement was made.
Senior offensive lineman Richard Helepiko (@PolyNerd78) tweeted: “Hawaii here we come. I’m juiced.”
This is the sixth year in a row that the Mountain West has sent five teams to bowl games.
Boise State, San Diego State, Nevada and Air Force are the other programs representing the conference in bowl appearances this season.
The Bulldogs share this year’s conference championship with the Aztecs and the Broncos, who accepted a bid to play Pac-12 representative Washington in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Bowl also considered Fresno State to be its Mountain West representative, the bowl’s executive director Dan Hanneke said earlier last week.
“It’s been a really good season, and they’ve been a fun team to watch,” said Jacqui Glasener, Fresno State’s executive director of alumni relations.
“I think it’ll be a great game on Christmas Eve in Honolulu. It’s great that we’ve been able to go on to the postseason. I think the team has performed really well and it’s recognition of a great season. I’m excited for the players,” Glasener said.
She said about 750 alumni reside in Hawaii and that travel packages will be offered to fans wishing to attend the game.
“That would be great – for our Red Wave fans to support the ‘Dogs and spend their holidays in Hawaii,” Glasener said. “I hope that we’re going to be able to have a group that goes over and supports the Bulldogs.”
Fresno State ranks 12th in both points per game (40.3) and passing yards (322.6 per game) among Football Bowl Subdivision schools this season.
Here is a look at the other Mountain West bowl games this postseason:
- Maaco Bowl Las Vegas: No. 19 Boise State (10-2, 7-1) vs. Washington (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) on Dec. 22.
- Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Nevada (7-5, 4-4) vs. Arizona (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12) on Dec. 15.
- San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State (9-3, 7-1) vs. BYU (7-5) on Dec. 20.
- Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force (6-6, 5-3) vs. Rice (6-6, 4-4 C-USA) on Dec. 29.