With a spot in the Las Vegas Bowl as the Mountain West champion off the board with a 17-14 loss to Boise State in the title game, the Fresno State Bulldogs landed a spot in the bowl they had second on their wish list, which also happens to be the site of some dreary endings to two of their past five seasons.
The Bulldogs will play Houston in the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl, where in 2012 they lost to Southern Methodist 43-10 and in 2014 they lost to Rice 30-6.
“Every team in college football wants to extend their playing season and I am thrilled for our players and staff,” coach Jeff Tedford said, in a statement.
“We are pleased to represent the Mountain West in the Hawaii Bowl against a very good Houston team and I look forward to preparing our team for a well-deserved bowl game.”
Fresno State (9-4), which lost its spot at No. 25 in the College Football Playoff Selection Committee rankings to the Broncos, had two other options through the Mountain West.
The New Mexico Bowl is played on Dec. 16, which conflicts with the Bulldogs’ basketball game against Oregon at the Save Mart Center. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22 would mean a return trip to Boise, just a few weeks after playing in the conference championship game on the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium.
A spot in the Dec. 27 Foster Farms Bowl in San Francisco did not open up – the Mountain West is the primary backup if there is an open slot from the Big Ten or the Pac-12. Purdue and Arizona will play in that game.
In the Mountain West Boise State is headed to the Las Vegas Bowl against Oregon, Wyoming will play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Central Michigan, Utah State will play New Mexico State in the Arizona Bowl, San Diego State has Army in the Armed Forces Bowl and Colorado State will play Marshall in the New Mexico Bowl.
Houston (7-4) under first-year coach Major Applewhite is one of the better defensive teams in the American Athletic Conference, ranking second in scoring defense (23.0 ppg) and fourth in total defense (417.5 ypg).
The Cougars opened the season with a 19-16 victory at Arizona, have a 28-24 win on the road at South Florida and lost 42-38 to No. 16 Memphis, which came in ranked No. 20 in the final CFP rankings. Their scheduled season opener against Texas-San Antonio was canceled in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and they did not play Central Florida, which is 12-0 and at No. 12 is the highest ranked Group of Five team in the CFP rankings.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE VS. HOUSTON
Vitals: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 24 in Honolulu
Records: Bulldogs 9-4, Cougars 7-4
Of note: The Bulldogs are 10-13 in bowls and playing in one for the first time since 2014, when they lost to Rice in the Hawaii Bowl. ... The Cougars are 11-13 in bowls and playing in one for the fifth straight year. ... This will be the first meeting between the schools.