HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A year ago, Fresno State's football program was in turmoil with a 1-11 record. Fast forward to Christmas Eve of this year, and the Bulldogs are Hawaii Bowl champions after defeating the University of Houston, 33-27 at Aloha Stadium.
Fresno State (10-4) completed the biggest turnaround in the FBS this season, winning at least 10 wins in a season for the first time in five years.
Quarterback Marcus McMaryion threw for a career-high 342 yards, completing 33-of-48 attempts. Kicker Jimmy Camacho made four field goals in the game as well.
The Cougars (7-5) were seeking their fifth consecutive season of eight or more wins, but fell short when the game was in the balance.
Houston opened up the scoring in the first in an otherwise stale first half that ended 13-10, but the game came alive in the third quarter thanks in part to a blocked field goal by Houston's Jeremy Winchester that was returned for a 94-yard touchdown by Alexander Myres.
But Fresno State's Jaron Bryant had other ideas late in the fourth.
Bryant jumped the route and returned the interception for a 44-yard return and score to put the game on ice with 3:49 remaining in the game.
Fresno State's record from this last season to this season marks the second time in FBS history that a team has won at least 10 games in a season after losing 10 games the year before.