Fresno State came up with a nice performance, but had a tough time putting Houston away in a 33-27 Hawaii Bowl win. Here are five things that matter.
2017 Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State 33, Houston 27
5. Fresno State should’ve put this away a whole lot earlier
Fresno State made this really, really tough on itself.
From an ill-advised late penalty on head coach Jeff Tedford for coming onto the field and trying to call a time out, to a blocked field goal for a pick six, to needing to come up with a recovery of an onside kick to survive, it was a struggle.
And why? Fresno State had to settle for six field goal attempts, with Jimmy Camacho hitting four and getting one blocked for the return for a touchdown.
The seven penalties and two turnovers were a problem, but the Bulldogs got the win. They’re not going to worry too much now about how they did it.
4. Houston just couldn’t run the ball
Superstar defensive tackle Ed Oliver got the Cougars’ lone touchdown run from one yard out, and that was it. Houston ran for just 72 yards against the fantastic, hard-hitting Fresno State defense, and it put QB D’Eriq King in a tough spot to make plays time and again.
He did his best – leading the team with 38 rushing yards, and with Steven Dunbar catching ten passes for 197 yards – but it was too much work to get the offense going without any push up front.
3. Major Applewhite needs a hot start in 2018
No, he’s not on a true hot seat, but starting with last year’s Las Vegas Bowl clunker to San Diego State, and with a disappointing 7-5 season, Applewhite hasn’t started out all that well after taking over for Tom Herman.
The Cougars start out against Rice, and then they get Arizona and a trip to Texas Tech. Houston became used to winning those types of games under Herman, and now he needs to show that he can get the program to a high level again. It didn’t play that way in Hawaii.
2. Marcus McMaryion
The former Oregon State Beaver was brilliant. And now, he’s going to be one of the bright, shining stars in the Mountain West going into next year.
The Fresno State quarterback completed 33-of-48 passes for 342 yards with a pick, and he ran for 50 yards and two scores. He gave up a tough pick, but he was able to keep the chains moving, kept things alive with his legs, and he made the plays that King and the Houston offense didn’t.
Now he’s a proven playmaker. Now he’s a bowl winner as a massive part of ….
1. Fresno State’s rebound
Seriously? A ten-win season and a bowl victory for Fresno State after going 1-11 in 2016 and 3-9 in 2015?
Head coach Jeff Tedford did a miraculous job in turning the program from a nothing burger to something special. This was a team that couldn’t do anything defensively, and now it’s nasty. The offense struggled to do anything right, and it closed out with 473 yards and a bowl victory.
As far as head coaching hires go, this goes beyond any reasonable dreams any Bulldog fans could’ve had.
Now go do it again.