Hawaii Bowl 2012: Fresno State vs. SMU TV Info, Predictions and More
The SMU Mustangs were an interesting team this season, evident by a couple of routine and obvious observations:
1. SMU won when it scored points (how about that?)
2. In losses, SMU struggled to score more than two touchdowns (that hurt, too).
The Mustangs (6-6) will take on the Fresno State Bulldogs (9-3), the runners-up in the Mountain West, in the 2012 Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24 Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
The Bulldogs averaged 40 points per game in 2012, the 12th-most in the country. Showcasing a high-flying offense was the norm for Fresno State, which eclipsed the 50-point mark thrice this season.
A tough schedule that included slim losses to Oregon and Boise State may benefit the Bulldogs on the day before Christmas.
Perhaps an early gift awaits, but they'll first have to figure out an up-and-down SMU team.
Game Day Info
Who: Fresno State Bulldogs vs. SMU Mustangs
When: Dec. 24 (3 PM, PDT)
Internet Stream: ESPN.com
Depth Chart for Fresno State
Depth chart information accurate as of Dec. 2
QB: Derek Carr, HB: Robbie Rouse, Michael Harris, A.J. Ellis; FB: Austin Raphael; WR: Devon Wylie, Rashad Evans; WR: Evans; TE: Ryan Skidmore, Ryan Boschma; OT: Bryce Harris, Austin Wentworth; OT: Marcel Jensen; OG: Matt Hunt; OG: Leslie Cooper; C: Richard Helepiko
DE: Matt Akers; DE: Nat Harrison; NT: Chase McEntee, Cornell Banks; DT: Logan Harrell; LB: Kyle Knox, Shawn Plummer; LB: Travis Brown; LB: Jeremiah Toma; CB: Isiaiah Green; CB: L.J. Jones; S: Phillip Thomas; S: Zak Hill
K: Kevin Goessling, Andrew Shapiro; P: Robert Malone, Andrew Shapiro; LS: Bobby Shepard; H: Malone; KR: A.J. Jefferson, Chastin West; PR: West, Devon Wylie
Depth Chart for SMU
Depth chart information accurate as of Dec. 2
QB: Garrett Gilbert, Conner Preston; RB: Zach Line, Rishaad Wimbley; WR: Der'rikk Thompson, Gehrig Dieter; WR: Keenan Holman, Arrius Holleman; WR: Darius Johnson, Ryan Walker; WR: Jeremy Johnson, Cole Loftin; OT: Ben Gottschalk, Kris Weeks; OT: Bryan Collins; OG: Jordan Free; Blake McJunkin; C: Taylor Lasecki
DE: Kevin Greiner, Zach Wood; DE :Marqus Hunt, Beau Barnes; NT: Torlan Pittman, Aaron Davis; LB: Stephon Sanders, Cody Worthen; LB: Ja'Gared Davis, Robert Seals; LB: Camerone Rogers, Randall Joyner; LB: Taylor Reed, Kevin Pope; CB: Chris Parks, Jeremy Gray; CB: Kenneth Acker, Keith Robinson; S: Ryan Smith, Daniel Roundtree; S: Jay Scott, Jeremy Gray
K: Chase Hover, P: Hover, Mike Loftus; LS: Mark Voosen; H: Hayden Greenbauer; KR: Cole Loftin, Kevin Pope; PR: Ryan Smith
What Happened to Fresno State Last Week
The Bulldogs shut the door on the regular season with a resounding 48-15 win over the Air Force Falcons.
Derek Carr dazzled with 452 passing yards and four touchdowns on 28 of 32 passing. Simply put, he just couldn't miss. Just the second play from scrimmage, Carr threw a 64-yard touchdown to Davante Adams, who had two scores on the day.
From then on, it was all over for the Falcons.
Running back Robbie Rouse erupted for 106 yards. Rushing for over 100 was common for Rouse this season -- he eclipsed that mark in nine of 12 games.
What Happened to SMU Last Week
Zach Line didn't have his best showing of the year, but he scored four touchdowns (three rushing) in SMU's 35-27 season finale win over Tulsa.
Despite averaging just 3.5 yards per carry in the win, Line was stable while grinding away on the ground with 23 totes.
Quarterback Garrett Gilbert threw for a season-low 113 yards, completing just 10 of 27 attempts -- but he threw a touchdown, so his day wasn't a complete failure. Tulsa's defense did a great job putting pressure on Gilbert, whose previous low yardage total was 133 yards (42-17 loss to UCF).
What It Means to Both Teams
For Fresno State, a bowl win would be a positive sign that things are moving in the right direction after last season's 4-9 debacle under Pat Hill, who was later fired.
The Bulldogs haven't won a bowl game since 2007's 40-28 Humanitarian Bowl victory over Georgia Tech. Beating SMU would boost their post-season record to 13-11.
After years in the shadows and under sanctions, the SMU Mustangs have been successful since rejoining the postseason festivities, winning two of their past three bowls. SMU enters its fourth straight bowl, which just happens to be a program-best streak.
The Mustangs obviously want to celebrate their accomplishment by pummeling Fresno State.
Key Player for SMU
SMU has talented receivers in Darius and Jeremy Jackson, along with a great running back in Zach Line, but it'll likely be quarterback Garrett Gilbert who has the most impact in the Hawaii Bowl.
Gilbert has to string together the offense, which when running smoothly, is quite exciting to watch.
Gilbert threw for 2,720 yards this season -- not spectacular, but not bad -- but had a poor touchdown/interception ratio (14 TD, 13 INT). But that doesn't mean he's prone to picks. He threw five in a 24-16 loss to TCU.
He then combined for four in his next three games, but that was it -- he hasn't thrown an interception in the past five games.
For the Mustangs to avoid repeating mistakes from earlier in the season, they have to give Gilbert time to throw and make things happen.
Key Player for Fresno State
It's safe to say Robbie Rouse gets things going; he's a 5'7", 190-pound pinball that breaks 100-yard games with regularity.
Stopping Rouse should be one of SMU's goals. Fresno State lost to Boise State, 20-10, a game in which Rouse ran for 77 yards. Oregon held him to 115 and beat Fresno State 42-25.
While it's not guaranteed to work every time, teams have found a little success when Rouse is contained and not allowed to wreak havoc.
SMU Will Win If...
Garrett Gilbert will lead SMU to a Hawaii Bowl win if he keep his no-interception streak alive.
Plain and simple.
Turnovers are key in football, and when there are few to none, the opposing defense has a difficult time disrupting the flow of the game with picks.
Makes sense, right?
Gilbert might want to throw in a rushing score -- SMU was 3-1 in 2012 when he reached the end zone by foot.
Fresno State Will Win If...
Well, if the Bulldogs' scoring fails to say something, not much else will.
As mentioned in a previous slide, Fresno State averaged 40 points per game, good for 12th-best in the land. If it scores 40, it's a wrap for SMU.
However, it may not take 40 points. Fresno State was unbeaten when scoring at least 28 this past fall.
Receiver Davante Adams had five games in which he finished with 100 yards or more.
The Bulldogs never lost when he did that.
So, Adams having 100 or more yards -- along with at least 28 points from the offense -- wouldn't be so bad, either.
Fresno State had one of the top passing offenses in college football this year, routinely hanging at least 320 yards through the air on opposing defenses. Couple that with a defense that allowed just 27.3 points per game, and you have a recipe for success.
As mentioned, those little coincidental player-does-this, Fresno State-wins stats help, but in reality, the Bulldogs have to do what they've done all year -- and that's play solid football.
In Week 2, Fresno State battled back from a 35-6 hole against the now-fourth ranked Oregon Ducks, who won, 42-25.
Games like that make teams hungry. That was essentially like a post-season contest for the Bulldogs, who should handle an incredibly inconsistent SMU team in the Hawaii Bowl.
Prediction: Fresno State 42, SMU 27