Now the Falcons have five weeks to freshen up before the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 29.
"It will be good for us to probably have a break," Calhoun said after Air Force lost 48-15 on Saturday and watched Fresno State clinch a share of the Mountain West Conference title.
"I mean our guys badly need a break. Probably the best thing they can do is go home, after they complete all of their finals. . Even four days in their own bed will be good for them."
Fresno State captured its first conference title since 1999, when the Bulldogs shared the Western Athletic Conference title with TCU and Hawaii. Derek Carr completed 28 of 32 passes for 452 yards and four touchdowns—two to Davante Adams—for Fresno State (9-3, 7-1 MWC). The Bulldogs tied with San Diego State, and if Boise State beats Nevada next week, the Broncos will also share the Mountain West crown.
Carr threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Adams on the Bulldogs' second play from scrimmage and less than 2 minutes later hooked up with Isaiah Burse for a 36-yard score.
Marcel Jensen added two 1-yard touchdown catches, one from Carr and one from tailback Robbie Rouse, as the Bulldogs produced 603 yards of total offense.
After the game, while clutching the MWC championship trophy and wearing a championship hat, Carr announced he would return for his senior year. The younger brother of David Carr, the former Fresno State quarterback and No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft, Derek has passed for 3,742 yards this season with 36 touchdowns and five interceptions.
"Hard work does pay off," Carr said. "When it comes to fruition like this, when you get to hold this trophy and get to wear this hat, you know you've done something right.
"I'm going to enjoy this, but we've still got one more (game) to go. We haven't won double-digit games in a while."
As for Air Force (6-6, 5-3), after falling behind 31-7 at halftime, Calhoun replaced starting quarterback Connor Dietz with backup Kale Peterson to start the third quarter.
The reason wasn't performance, but for what Calhoun termed an "accumulation" of bumps and bruises.
"(Dietz) has been nicked up a little bit," Calhoun said. "Ever since Oct. 13 (a 28-27 victory over Wyoming), he's been nicked up a bunch. This (rest) will be good for him."
Fresno State, whose 4-9 record last year resulted in the dismissal of longtime coach Pat Hill, has not won 10 games since 2001—David Carr's senior season.
"We set this goal in the beginning of the year and worked our butts off," said Bulldogs safety Phillip Thomas, a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award for the nation's best defensive back. "Whether I win the Thorpe or not, you can't take this (MWC championship) trophy away from me."
Besides his first career touchdown pass, Rouse finished with 106 rushing yards—the 21st time in his career Fresno State's all-time leading rusher surpassed 100 yards. Burse had 158 receiving yards and Adams added 141 to increase his MWC-leading season total to 1,168.
Cody Getz had 82 rushing yards and Jon Lee added 52 for Air Force (6-6, 5-3), which finished with 254 rushing yards compared to 63 passing. The Falcons came in averaging 335.5 yards on the ground.
"That's a good team we played," Calhoun said. "I thought athletically, especially in the open field, I thought there were some plays where they made some pretty dynamic things happen."
Fresno State likely is bound for either the Hawaii or Las Vegas bowls.
Fresno State's three first three drives all resulted in touchdowns thanks to Carr's accurate deep throws, receivers that were taller and faster than Air Force's secondary and a defense that continually forced the Falcons into third-and-long.
Carr completed 18 of 20 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Bulldogs rolled up 326 yards of offense while producing a 31-7 halftime lead.
"Athletically, those are extraordinary players," Calhoun said of Fresno State's receivers. "They're going to complete balls, but you need to be able to limit the yards after a grab. They had some big, big plays on 8-yard completions."
The game, the first meeting between Fresno State and Air Force since the 2000 Silicon Valley Bowl, marked the first meeting between Air Force graduates who went on to become head coaches.
First-year Falcons coach Tim DeRuyter had two stints as an Air Force assistant coach, serving as Calhoun's defensive coordinator from 2007-09 and under Fisher DeBerry from 1991-94.