by CFP Staff
December 25, 2012
Fresno State was a heavy favorite in the Hawai'i Bowl over SMU, but Mustang head coach June Jones wanted nothing to do with that. His return to the island paradise produced a 43-10 upset of the Bulldogs, similar to his first return to Hawaii when SMU bludgeoned Nevada 45-10 in the 2009 edition of this game.
Jones, of course, was the head coach of Hawai'i from 1999-2007 before taking the same position in Dallas.
SMU scored a pair of touchdowns off interception returns to tie the NCAA record of 8 set last year by Southern Miss, and the Mustangs registered 7 sacks. 6'-8" Margus Hunt forced two fumbles and sacked Derek Carr en route to being named the MVP of the game.
Fresno State saw its 5-game winning streak snapped and its postseason losing streak get stretched to four games. Overall, the Bulldogs had their bowl record drop to 10-11.
SMU improved to 7-7-1 in bowl games, including a 3-1 bowl record under Jones.
The game was prefect evidence that what you see isn't what you always get in a bowl game. Fresno State owned a 5-1 lead in the series with SMU and had won the last five. The Fresno State offense was ranked 14th nationally and the defense ranked 19th overall. Conversely, the Mustangs were 95th on offense and 65th on defense.
Furthermore, SMU only managed back-to-back wins just once over the entire course of the season while Fresno State had not lost a nonconference game since September 22 when it was edged 27-26 at Tulsa. SMU was facing a top-10 quarterback with the nation's 106th-ranked pass defense.
Statistically, this game looked like a Fresno State rout was in the works, but the Congrove Computer Rankings surprisingly projected the Bulldogs to win by just 5.46 points, well under the double-digit spread. The straight up loss by Fresno State was the first time all season that the computer missed on picking the outright winner of a Bulldog game.