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Cougars headed to Hawai’i for bowl game against Fresno State

For the second year in a row, the Cougars will face a team from the Mountain West Conference when they travel to Honolulu to play the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Hawai’i Bowl on Dec. 24. | Richard Fletcher Jr./The Cougar

The Cougars will travel to Honolulu this winter break to play the Fresno State Bulldogs in the Hawai’i Bowl on Dec. 24, the team announced Sunday. The game will mark the Cougars’ fifth consecutive bowl game appearance.

The Christmas Eve game will be the first time the Cougars and the Bulldogs play in the history of their programs. This is the Cougars’ second appearance in the Hawai’i Bowl and the third time playing a bowl game in Hawaii.

After going 1-11 in 2016, the Bulldogs finished the regular season 9-4, winning the West Division of the Mountain West Conference and facing the Boise State Broncos in the conference championship game. The Bulldogs ultimately fell to the No. 25 Broncos by a score of 14-17. And Sunday’s announcement confirmed¬†reports that the loser of the game would play the Cougars in Hawaii.

Fresno State is led by its ninth-ranked scoring defense, which allows only 17.2 points per game. The team also ranks in the top 20 in yards allowed per game, giving up an average of only 319 yards per game.

Sophomore linebacker Jeffrey Allison leads the Bulldogs’ stifling defense with 113 total tackles. On Saturday, Allison finished with a team-high 10 tackles against Boise State.

Offensively, the Bulldogs average 26.7 points per game and 386.8 yards per game. They are led by junior receiver KeeSean Johnson, who is one of the best receivers in the MWC. His eight touchdowns, 918 receiving yards and 69 receptions are all top-three in the conference.

The Cougars last played in the Hawai’i Bowl in 2003, when they were defeated 48-55 by the Hawaii Warriors in three overtime series.¬†The team lost to Washington State in the Aloha Bowl in 1988.

The Hawaii Warriors receive an automatic bid to the Hawai’i Bowl if they are bowl-eligible and have not been invited to another bowl. Otherwise, another Mountain West Conference team is selected. This year that team was Fresno State.

Tickets for the Houston section are available from the Athletics ticket office. All tickets are $45, and any orders placed before 5 p.m. on Dec. 11 will receive priority accommodations at Aloha Stadium. The process is first-come, first-served afterward.

The UH Alumni Association is offering travel packages that include hotel accommodations and pregame events in Hawai’i. More information and pricing can be found on its website.

Fans unable to attend can donate their ticket to a member of the armed forces serving in Hawaii. Packages go for $50 dollars, and the service members will receive a ticket to the game and a UH t-shirt.

The Hawai’i Bowl will start at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 24 at Aloha Stadium and will be televised on ESPN.

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