HONOLULU – (Hawaii Athletics) Fresno State has accepted an invitation to play in the 2012 SHERATON HAWAI'I BOWL, as announced by Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl Executive Director David A. K. Matlin. The Bulldogs, co-champions of the Mountain West, will meet Conference USA representative SMU on Christmas Eve (Monday, Dec. 24) at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium.
The 2012 SHERATON HAWAI'I BOWL will air at 8 p.m. EST/3 p.m. HST on ESPN and ESPN Radio.
"We are excited to be hosting the Mountain West Champion Fresno State Bulldogs to the 11th Annual SHERATON HAWAI'I BOWL." Matlin said. "Coach DeRuyter and his squad's explosive offense will provide a thrilling game to our fans and the millions of television viewers across the nation."
"We are pleased and excited to receive an invitation to participate in the 2012 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl and look forward to playing a highly respected Southern Methodist University team," said Fresno State Athletics Director Thomas Boeh. "The Island of O'ahu 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."
Fresno State (9-3), which finished in a three-way tie for first in the MW standings, will make its first appearance in the SHERATON HAWAI'I BOWL and 25th bowl overall. Winners of their last five games, the Bulldogs will make their 12th bowl appearance in the last 14 years and second NCAA-sanctioned bowl in Honolulu after appearing in the 1993 Aloha Bowl.
Under first-year head coach Tim DeRuyter, the Bulldogs feature the nation's No. 13 scoring offense at 40.2 points per game and are No. 14 in total offense at 488.5 yards per game. Quarterback Derek Carr leads an offense that ranks 12th nationally in passing (322.6). Defensively, Fresno State is No. 20 in total defense (335.3), including the No. 5-ranked passing defense. All-American safety Phillip Thomas has a nation's-best eight interceptions.
"The Bulldogs are thrilled to be playing in the 2012 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl versus SMU," DeRuyter said. "Having been to an earlier Hawai'i Bowl as an assistant coach, I know the players and coaches are in for a fantastic week. We also know the challenge of playing against a June Jones-coached SMU team and look forward to competing on Christmas Eve. Aloha, Mele Kalikimaka, and as Don Ho once famously sang, 'tiny bubbles, in the wine, makes me happy, makes me feel fine.'"