Heading into the 2014 Hawaii Bowl, Fresno State was looking and/or hoping to avoid the ignominy of an eighth loss in a season in which they were bowl-eligible. Unfortunately, they collided head-first into said ignominy.
On the strength of a surprisingly effective passing attack, Rice jumped out to a 16-6 halftime lead on Fresno en route to a 30-6 win in the 13th annual Hawaii Bowl. The victory marked the Owls’ second in the last three postseasons.
Entering the game on the islands, Rice was 71st in the country in passing yards per game at 223.6; Driphus Jackson passed for 318 yards in the win, a total he surpassed just once this season (337 in the regular-season finale against Louisiana Tech). Jackson also tossed three touchdown passes, the third time this season the junior passed for three or more scores in a single game.
For his efforts, Jackson was named the Player of the Game.
Not to be outshone by Jackson’s prolific passing, though, the Owls’ defense played a significant role in the win as well.
Fresno State came into the postseason averaging 412 yards of total offense per game; against Rice, FSU was only able to muster 256. Included in that total was just 93 yards passing.
With the loss, Fresno State becomes the only team other than the 2011 UCLA Bruins to finish an FBS season with a 6-8 record. The only other teams to enter a bowl game with a losing record were North Texas at 5-6 in 2001 and Georgia Tech at 6-7 in 2012. The latter won its game to get to .500, while UNT lost the first of four straight New Orleans Bowl appearances to finish at 5-7.
To add insult to won-loss injury, the Bulldogs have also lost six straight bowl games, with the football program’s last postseason win coming in the 2007 Humanitarian Bowl.
One final note of interest: Fresno State had one penalty for 15 yards, while Rice was flagged 12 times for 100 yards. Do with that nugget as you will.