'Dogs and Mustangs to Meet in Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl

Dec. 10, 2012

Fresno State (9-3, 7-1 MW) vs. SMU (6-6, 5-3 C-USA)
Dec. 24, 2012 • Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium (50,000) • Honolulu, Hawai'i. • 5 p.m. PT

Game Day Quick Facts
TELEVISION: ESPN | Play-by-Play: Carter Blackburn; Analyst: Kelly Stouffer; Sideline: Kaylee Hartung
Comcast Ch. 32 (724 HD); DirectTV Ch. 206; Dish Network Ch. 140; AT&T U-Verse Ch. 602 (1602 HD)

KMJ (AM 580); Bulldog Live (3 p.m.), Countdown to Kickoff (4:30 p.m.) | Play-by-Play: Paul Loeffler; Analyst: Jordan Christensen; Sideline: Ralph Wood

ESPN Deportes (1600 AM) in Spanish  | Play-by-Play: Erwin Higueros; Analyst: Jesse Beltran; Sideline: Jose Salas

ESPN Radio (National); Play-by-Play: Marc Kestecher; Analyst: Pete Najarian


Fresno State is playing in its 12th bowl game in the last 14 seasons, as the MW champion Bulldogs head out to Honolulu, Hawai'i to face the SMU Mustangs (6-6, 5-3 C-USA) on Dec. 24 in the 2012 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl ... Kickoff from Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium is set for 5 p.m. PT ... The Christmas Eve game is set to be televised live on ESPN with Carter Blackburn (play-by-play), Kelly Stouffer (analyst) and Kaylee Hartung (sideline) calling the game ... Fans can listen to all the bowl-game festivities on the radio at KMJ 580 AM with the Bulldog Sports Network team of Paul Loeffler (play-by-play), Jordan Christensen (analyst) and Ralph Wood (sideline reporter). Bulldog Live begins at 3 p.m. and the pregame show starts at 4:30 p.m. ... This will be Fresno State's 24th bowl game in program history and the Bulldogs have an 11-12 all-time bowl record ... The 'Dogs ended the regular season with five-straight victories and averaged 47.2 points and 515.4 yards of offense in the five wins. This is the first time since 2004 that the Bulldogs closed the regular season with five consecutive victories and Fresno State now has a shot at its first 10-win season since 2001 ... The Bulldogs cleaned up on the Mountain West yearly awards. Quarterback Derek Carr was named the league's Offensive Player of the Year, safety Phillip Thomas was named the Defensive Player of the Year and wide receiver Davante Adams was named the Freshman of the Year.

Bulldog Headlines
• Fresno State is making its 12th bowl appearance in the last 14 seasons.
• Tim DeRuyter has won more games than any other first-year Fresno State head coach. He and Alvin Pierson in 1945 are the only head coaches to lead the Bulldogs to a bowl game in their first season.

Going Bowling
Fresno State is set to play in its 24th bowl game in program history. It will be the 12th bowl for the Bulldogs in the last 14 years. This will be Fresno State's first appearance in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, but the 'Dogs have been to Honolulu before for a bowl game. In 1993, the Trent Dilfer-led Bulldogs played in the Aloha Bowl where they fell 41-30 to Colorado on Christmas day. Fresno State is 11-12 all-time in bowl games and is looking to snap a three-game postseason skid.

Bulldogs Seek 10-Win Season
Fresno State is one win away from registering its first 10-win season since 2001 when the Bulldogs went 11-3 overall. If the 'Dogs are able to win the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, it would give the school its eighth 10-win season. Fresno State got to this point by winning its last five games of the regular season. This is the first time since 2004 that the Bulldogs have closed the regular season with five-straight wins. That 2004 team finished the year 9-3 after defeating No. 18 Virginia 37-34 in overtime to win the MPC Computers Bowl.

Fresno State vs. SMU - The Series
Fresno State and SMU have faced one another six times in the history of its programs and the Bulldogs hold a 5-1 advantage in the series. All six meetings came in consecutive seasons from 1999-04 when both schools were members of the Western Athletic Conference. In Fresno State's five wins, the Bulldogs have had an average margin of victory of 21.2 points. SMU won the very first meeting between the two schools, 24-14 on Oct. 14, 1999 in Dallas, Texas. Fresno State went on to win the next five meetings, including a 42-0 victory on Oct. 30, 2004 in the last game played between the schools.

Scouting SMU
SMU (6-6) will be making its 15th bowl appearance and third bowl appearance in Honolulu (1984 Aloha and 2009 Sheraton Hawai`i). The Mustangs finished second behind Tulsa in the Conference-USA West Division with a 5-3 league record. Under head coach June Jones, SMU will be making its fourth consecutive bowl appearance. The Mustangs averaged 29.5 points per game in the regular season behind 237.2 yards passing and 366.2 yards of total offense. Running back Zach Line has averaged 100.6 rushing yards per game this year and has 12 rushing touchdowns. His 20 career 100-yard rushing games are the fourth-most of any active running back, one behind Fresno State's Robbie Rouse. SMU QB Garrett Gilbert has thrown for 226.7 yards per game this year with 14 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He completed 53.1 percent of his 478 passes in the regular season. Defensively, SMU allowed 27 points per game and 400 yards of total offense. The Mustang defense is tied with Fresno State for the third-most turnovers gained in the FBS this season with 33 (19 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries).

DeRuyter Sets Record for Wins By First-Year Coach
Tim DeRuyter has set a new school record for victories by a Bulldog coach in his first season at the school with nine wins. The previous record for wins by a first-year coach was held by Clark Van Galder with eight wins in his first season in 1952. DeRuyter has also become just the second Fresno State coach to lead the Bulldogs to a bowl game in his first season. Alvin "Pix" Pierson in 1945 guided the Bulldogs to the Raisin Bowl.

DeRuyter's job in his first season is not only impressive when comparing him with other Bulldog coaches, but also comparing him nationally. He becomes the 87th coach in FBS history to lead a team to a bowl game in his first season at his school. There are 25 other coaches in the FBS in their first season at their school this year and only Ohio State's Urban Meyer (12-0) and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin (10-2) have won more games than DeRuyter. Meyer and DeRuyter deserve credit for the biggest turnarounds in the nation this season, as Ohio State and Fresno State are among the most improved teams in the country this season (see chart above). Of the 25 coaches in their first season at their school this year, nine of them have led their squads to bowl games.

Mountain West Champions
Fresno State went 7-1 in its first season in the Mountain West to earn the schools first conference title since 1999 and the 26th in program history. Fresno State shared the conference championship with San Diego State and Boise State. The two previous times a new school joined the Mountain West (TCU in 2005 and Boise State in 2011), the new league member won the conference title. An interesting note about Fresno State joining a new conference is the success it has achieved during its first season in the league. Fresno State joined the WAC in 1992 and after going 6-2 in conference play that year, claimed a share of the league title. In 1988, the year the Pacific Coast Athletic Association became the Big West, the Bulldogs went a perfect 7-0 in Big West play to win the conference championship (although it technically was the same conference, just with a new name).

Bulldogs Clean Up Mountain West Awards
Fresno State has become the first team in Mountain West history to have the league's Offensive Player of the Year, the Defensive Player of the Year and the Freshman of the Year.

• QB Derek Carr - Offensive Player of the Year: Set a new Mountain West record with three 400-yard passing games and his 36 touchdown passes are the second-most in Mountain West history.
• SS Phillip Thomas - Defensive Player of the Year: An AFCA All-American and Thorpe Award Finalist, Thomas set a new Mountain West record with eight interceptions this season.
• WR Davante Adams - Freshman of the Year: Adams set new MW freshman records for receptions (89) and receiving yards (1,168).

In addition to the Players of the Year, 15 Bulldogs were named to the 2012 All-Mountain West Football teams.

• First-Team (7): QB Derek Carr, RB Robbie Rouse, WR Davante Adams, OL Austin Wentworth, NG Tyeler Davison, FS Derron Smith, SS Phillip Thomas
• Second-Team (2): LB Travis Brown, DE Andy Jennings
• Honorable Mention: (6) CB Sean Alston, WR Isaiah Burse, OL Richard Helepiko, TE Marcel Jensen, CB L.J. Jones, P Andrew Shapiro

DeRuyter's Looters
Fresno State has recorded the best turnover turnaround in the FBS this century. The 'Dogs tied for dead last in the nation in 2011 with nine take-aways, but are tied for third this year with 33 turnovers gained. That is a difference of 24 turnovers from last year to this year, which is the biggest one-year differential since the turn of the century. The Bulldogs have also become the first FBS team this century to have under 10 take-aways one season but over 30 the next. Ironically, both the 'Dogs and SMU are tied for third nationally with 33 turnovers gained. Fresno State is tied for fourth nationally with 20 interceptions and has picked off at least one pass in each of the last 10 games. That is the longest active interception streak in the nation and tied with Georgia Tech, which had a streak of 10-straight games with a pick snapped on Nov. 24, for the longest streak this year. Fresno State has capitalized on the turnovers it has created this season. The Bulldogs have scored 165 points off the 33 turnovers this year, getting 18 touchdowns and three fields goals on their possession right after the take-away. The defense itself has joined in on the scoring:

► Fresno State's six pick-sixes have set new school and Mountain West records while being tied with SMU for the national lead.
► Fresno State's eight total defensive touchdowns this season are the second-most in the country, one behind SMU's nine (six pick-sixes, three fumble recoveries for TDs).