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Utah State football: Aggies await their bowl destination after Saturday's MWC championship game loss

FRESNO, Calif. — On the heels of its 24-17 defeat to Fresno State Saturday night, the Utah State football team anxiously waits to hear Sunday where it'll be playing its bowl game later this month.

After Saturday's Mountain West title game, Fresno State accepted an official invitation to play in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, most likely against USC, on Dec. 21.

It is assumed that the Aggies will go to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 26, but MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said earlier in the week that Saturday's loser wouldn’t necessarily go to San Diego. Thompson said bowls can choose whoever is bowl-eligible for their games.

The Poinsettia Bowl could take a team like Boise State that has more national prestige or even hometown San Diego State, although that isn’t likely since the Aztecs have gone to two of the past three bowls. The Broncos, who have been to the last three Las Vegas Bowls, have played in the Poinsettia Bowl just once, back in 2008.

If the Aggies aren't selected to participate in the Poinsettia Bowl, they would be placed in another MWC-affiliated bowl, perhaps the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 30; the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24; or the New Mexico Bowl or Idaho Potato Bowl, both on Dec. 21.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: For weeks, Fresno State was in a position to earn a possible BCS bowl berth, ranking just ahead of Northern Illinois in the BCS standings. Then, two weeks ago, Fresno fell just behind NIU, disappointing Bulldog fans.

However, Fresno State’s BCS hopes went up in smoke last week when San Jose State knocked off the Bulldogs in a 62-52 shootout in San Jose. But they couldn’t help lament what might have been after Northern Illinois was upset by Bowling Green 47-27 in the Mid-American championship game Thursday night, as the Bulldogs would have been the highest ranking non-BCS team.

LOW NUMBERS: The attendance Saturday was 31,362, the lowest of the season in Fresno State's 41,000-seat stadium. The previous low was 33,260 against Cal Poly in the second game of the year. It could have been because the temperature at kickoff was an un-California-like 41 degrees or because tickets were more expensive and not part of the season ticket package.

GAME NOTES: Josh Quezada, who played at BYU for two years, was the Bulldogs’ leading rusher with 54 yards yards on 21 carries. For the game, FSU gained only 56 net yards on the ground. ... FSU quarterback Derek Carr, who completed 36 of 53 passes for 404 yards, was named the game's offensive MVP. ... Dalen Jones, who got an interception and had a sack and a pair of tackles, was the defensive MVP. ... Ronald Butler, who was only sixth on the team in receptions coming into the game, caught five passes for 145 yards for USU. ... Joey DeMartino was USU's leading rusher with 54 net yards. ... Aggie quarterbacks were sacked eight times for negative-49 yards. ... Linebacker Jake Doughty, who scored on an 86-yard fumble return in the first half, led the Aggie defense with 10 tackles. ... The Aggies had won 11 straight road games against league opponents before losing Saturday. ... Fresno State is the only FBS school that only played 11 games this year. That’s because the Bulldogs’ Sept. 14 game at Colorado was cancelled due to floods in Colorado that week. Colorado was later able to schedule a game against FBS school Charleston Southern in October, but Fresno never replaced the missed game. ... Fresno State now leads the series (17-10-1). ... USU’s last win in Fresno was a 14-0 victory in 1980. The two teams tied 24-24 in 1990. ... Isaiah Burse had a career-high 17 pass receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown.