THE HAWAII BOWL: FRESNO STATE VS. SOUTHERN METHODIST
Today: 5 p.m. at Aloha Stadium (50,000)
Records: Bulldogs 9-3, Mustangs 6-6
TV/radio: ESPN/KMJ (AM 580), KGST (AM 1600)
Kickoff forecast: 77 degrees, partly cloudy with 74% humidity and 20% chance of precipitation
KEYS TO SUCCESS
FOR FRESNO STATE: The Bulldogs can accentuate a significant advantage at the quarterback position by using their disguise and blitzes to get shots at Garrett Gilbert, who has completed only 53.1% of his passes with 13 interceptions to 14 touchdown passes. SMU also is tied for 90th in sacks allowed -- time for the Bulldogs to tee off.
FOR SMU: The Mustangs defense is tied with Fresno State and Boise State for third in the nation in turnovers gained with 33. But SMU also has turned it over 21 times, more than any of the teams in the top 25 in turnover margin. To win, the Mustangs have to extend as many drives as possible against a tough Fresno State defense.
Carr and Rouse -- already best Mountain West duo ever: Derek Carr and Robbie Rouse are going to finish the season as the most productive quarterback and running back duo in the history of the Mountain West Conference -- they already are there, combining for more yards in the Bulldogs' 12 games than most every tandem on the list did in 13.
Carr has passed for 3,742 yards and Rouse has rushed for 1,468 for 5,210 combined yards.
In second place are Brigham Young quarterback Brandon Doman (3,542) and running back Luke Staley (1,582), who in 2001 combined for 5,124 yards.
Inside the trenches: Fresno State is ranked 73rd in the bowl subdivision in rushing defense, allowing 171.9 yards per game.
But, the Bulldogs have faced six of the top 15 rushing offenses in Air Force (second with 328.8 ypg), Oregon (third with 323.3), New Mexico (fifth with 301.3), Nevada (seventh with 271.0), Tulsa (11th with 240.2) and San Diego State (15th with 229.2).
The Mustangs are ranked only 94th in rushing offense, averaging 128.9 yards per game.
The 10-win club: Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter has a chance to win 10 games in his first season with the Bulldogs, which would be a school record but not a Mountain West Conference record.
It would put him in some pretty good company, though. There have been only two coaches in the conference who have won 10 or more games in their first seasons at a school -- Gary Crowton went 12-2 with Brigham Young in 2001 and Urban Meyer went 10-2 with Utah in 2003.
Also, DeRuyter and Alvin Pierson in 1945 are the only Bulldogs coaches to lead Fresno State to a bowl in their first seasons. DeRuyter already has set the school record for a rookie coach, breaking Clark Van Galder's mark of eight wins in 1952.
Rouse milestone watch: Rouse is one of 22 seniors who will be playing their final games for Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl, and if he can rush for two touchdowns against the Mustangs he will add to his school records.
The 5-foot-7 running back, who already holds or has tied 10 school records, is two rushing touchdowns away from Ryan Mathews' school record of 39 and two touchdowns shy of tying Anthony Daigle's school record of 44 career touchdowns. Rouse also is just 14 points away from tying Daigle's record for most points scored by a player who was not a kicker, which is 266.
Old WAC mates: Fresno State and SMU have played six times when both were in the Western Athletic Conference, with the Bulldogs holding a 5-1 advantage in the series.
That June feeling: SMU is making its fourth consecutive bowl appearance under coach June Jones, the former eight-year Hawaii coach who left the Warriors program after a perfect regular season in 2007.
Jones will be coaching for the 75th time in Aloha Stadium today and hasn't lost in the stadium since Oregon State beat Hawaii on Dec. 2, 2006.