SMU coach June Jones felt right at home when he walked into Honolulu's Aloha Stadium.
He strolled down a corridor where portraits of Hawaii's biggest stars hung on the wall, most of them players that Jones coached during an eight-year tenure that made him so popular in paradise that some suggested he run for governor.
When Jones left a news conference for the Hawaii Bowl, he flashed the "Hang Loose" symbol to faces he has seen for years. Never mind that Fresno State knows this island and stadium from playing at Hawaii every other year in the Mountain West Conference. Or that the Bulldogs are favored by nearly two touchdowns against SMU on Christmas Eve (5 p.m., ESPN).
Jones has ample reason to feel the Hawaii Bowl is a home game.
"Coming into the stadium it sure does," Jones said. "We're in the same locker room. I recognize all the workers. From that standpoint, it does. But it all comes down to seeing friends. I try to teach my kids that you play the game and you want to win, but there's more to it than that. It's about the people around you."
Jones will be coaching for the 75th time in Aloha Stadium when his Mustangs (6-6) face Fresno State (9-3) in the Hawaii Bowl. He hasn't lost in this stadium since Oregon State beat Hawaii on Dec. 2, 2006.
Hawaii had a perfect regular season in 2007, and then Jones bolted for SMU over what he felt were hollow promises about upgrading facilities.
SMU, which had gone 25 years without a bowl game dating to its NCAA penalty, ended that drought when Jones brought it to the Hawaii Bowl in 2009 and, despite being nearly a two-touchdown favorite to another MWC team, rolled 45-10 over Nevada.
But Fresno State presents a different kind of test.
Since losing to Boise State, the Bulldogs have averaged just over 47 points in winning their last five games. They swept all the conference awards -- offensive player of the year (quarterback Derek Carr), defensive player (safety Phillip Thomas) and top freshman (Davante Adams).
"To a fan watching this game, they'll see two spread offenses that can light up a scoreboard, and two defenses that can take it away," Tim DeRuyter, who set a Fresno State record for most wins in his first season as coach.
Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse starting linebacker Marquis Spruill will not play "a significant portion" against West Virginia on Dec. 29 at Yankee Stadium after he was arrested Dec. 2.
Spruill and running back Steve Rene were arrested and charged with misdemeanors after scuffling with Syracuse Police.
Coach Doug Marrone didn't specify how much of the game Spruill will miss. Marrone said Rene, who is out with an injury, will be benched for a significant part of the next game he is ready to play.
Penn State: Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky maintains his innocence and tells The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens' Voice that he is "trying to learn from ... the struggle and circumstances" as he focuses on an appeal of his conviction on child sex abuse charges. He's serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison.