But the Bulldogs made the Central Valley proud for the majority of the season..
Now this group of Bulldogs is looking forward to bigger and better things in 2013.
The initial sting of Monday's Hawaii Bowl blowout has passed for the Red Wave. But while the loss to SMU will sit with fans for a while, players and coaches say they have no choice but to move forward.
"You've just got to learn from it. You can't look at it in a negative way. I've got a lot of stuff to pull out of this game. And just continue to get better," quarterback Derek Carr said.
"Hopefully this will be a launching pad for next year. Our guys realize we didn't finish. And as far as we've made some progress, we're not where we need to be," head coach Tim Deruyter said.
But when putting the entire season in perspective, where they are, is an accomplishment in itself as the Bulldogs were able to create a buzz about college football in the Central Valley for the first time in recent memory.
"There's a lot of teams sitting at home with no conference titles and all that. To put it in perspective, I thought the way Coach Deruyter came in, he gave us energy. He gave us fire. And I appreciate the heck out of him,' Carr said.
Coach Deruyter and his staff engineered a five-game turnaround from 4-and-9 in 20-11 to 9-and-4 this season. All parties involved say this past season is only the tip of the iceberg for what this team can achieve.
"We've got a great coach and we've got great players. And I'm so excited for next season. I really can't wait. We've got a whole bunch of talent coming back, and me and Coach Schramm will be up there adding more schemes and more plays for next year," Carr said.
And if there's any silver lining in the 43-10 loss to the Mustangs it's that the Bulldogs won't need any motivation during the off season to get the bitter Hawaii Bowl taste out of their mouths.
"I hate that it obviously takes a little bit of shine off this season because we didn't finish the way we wanted to. Especially for these seniors. But I sure as heck hope it's motivation for our guys because that's what I expect it to be, and have a little chip on our shoulders going into next year," Deruyter said.
Be patient Red Wave, because as fun as this past season was to watch there's a bunch of hungry Bulldogs guaranteeing next season will be even better.