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Fresno State accepts bid to Hawaii Bowl, will play SMU

The Mountain West Conference co-champion Fresno St. Bulldogs accepted a big to play in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Sunday, facing the SMU Mustangs of Conference USA on Christmas Eve in Honolulu.

Kevin Casey

The Mountain West Conference co-champion Fresno State Bulldogs accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, Director of Athletics Thomas Boeh announced Sunday.

The Bulldogs, who win the MWC with a 9-3 overall record and 7-1 mark in their inaugural season in the MWC will meet Conference USA representative SMU on Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24 at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium at 5 p.m. PT.

The game will be televised on ESPN and will be broadcast on ESPN Radio.

In a press release, Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter said his team is "thrilled to be playing" in the Hawaii Bowl.

"Having been to an earlier Hawai'i Bowl as an assistant coach, I know the players and coaches are in for a fantastic week," said DeRuyter. "We also know the challenge of playing against a June Jones coached SMU team and look forward to competing on Christmas Eve."

The Hawaii Bowl appearance will be Fresno State's 24th in program history and first since and a 40-17 loss to Northern Illinois in the Humanitarian Bowl in 2010. The Bulldogs last won a bowl in 2008 when they beat Georgia Tech 40-28 in the Humanitarian Bowl.

The Bulldogs have never faced SMU in a bowl game, but the two schools have faced one another six times before when they were both members of the WAC from 1999-04. Fresno State holds a 5-1 advantage in the series and its five wins have been by an average margin of 21.2 points.

Paced by NFL prospect Derek Carr and Robbie Rouse, who finished the season rated 13th in the nation in rushing with an average of 122.33 yards per game, the Bulldogs offense was one of the best in the nation this season. FSU averaged 40.2 points per game to rated 12th in Division I in scoring offense and 488.5 yards of offense, the rate 14th in total offense. Carr finished rated ninth in passing efficiency with a rating of 160.64. Receiver Davante Adams was the MWC's top rated rece14th nationally in receiving yards per game (97.33 ypg) and receptions per game (7.42).

Defensively, Fresno State is 19th nationally in total defense, allowing an average of 335.33 yards per game and fourth nationally in pass defense, allowing just 163.42 ypg and third in turnovers gained with 33. In total, the Bulldogs led the MWC in five different defense ratings

SMU is making its 15th bowl appearance after finishing the 2012 regular season with a 6-6 record. This is the Mustangs' third bowl appearance in Honolulu. Under head coach June Jones, SMU is making its fourth consecutive bowl appearance.