By CFP Staff (Excerpts courtesy Sheraton Hawaii Bowl)
Hawaii's No. 1-ranked passing offense faces Tulsa's 119th-ranked pass defense in this year's edition of the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve in Honolulu. Make no doubt about it, that is the telling stat.
The Warriors tied for first-place in the WAC with Boise State and Nevada, compiling a 10-3 record overall and a 7-1 conference mark. The Golden Hurricane (9-3 overall, 6-2 CUSA) tied for the CUSA West title, but lost out on the opportunity to play for the conference championship due to a tie-breaker loss to SMU.
Both teams enter on hot streaks. Tulsa has won its last six games including a victory at Notre Dame. Hawaii has won 9 of its last 10, including a 27-21 home win over Nevada, which was the only team to defeat Boise State.
The Golden Hurricane feature one of the country's most potent offenses, ranking fifth nationally in total offense at 503.5 yards per game and ninth in scoring at 39.7 points per game.
Junior wide receiver Damaris Johnson leads the nation in all-purpose yards and is the NCAA's all-time leader in kickoff return yardage. Junior quarterback G.J. Kinne is among the nation's leaders in total offense and averages 263.7 passing yards per game with 24 touchdowns.
Head coach Todd Graham is in his fourth season with the Golden Hurricane and boasts a 34-17 record. He led Tulsa to back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in school history in 2007 and '08 and consecutive GMAC Bowl wins and C-USA West Division championships.
Tulsa will be making its first appearance in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and its 17th bowl appearance overall. The school missed the bowl season last year when it started 4-1, then suffered through a 6-game losing streak. The 2009 miss broke a 4-year bowl appearance streak in which Tulsa went 3-1.
Hawaii was an automatic invitee after achieving the minimum 7 wins necessary for a school with a 13-game schedule and only 1 FCS opponent. The Warriors met that goal on October 30 with a 45-10 home victory over Idaho. The Warriors' 10-3 record easily tops head coach Greg McMackin's previous two years when they turned in records of 7-7 and 6-7. Until this season, McMackin was living in the legendary shadow of his former boss, June Jones, who resigned after the 2007 season in which Hawaii went 12-0 before falling to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
The Warriors have participated in their home bowl game five previous times since the bowl’s inception in 2002 and have won three of those games (2003, ’04, and ’06). Of Hawaii's 9 bowls, only two have been played on the mainland ('07 Sugar and '92 Holiday).
This marks Hawaii's return to the postseason after a 3-year run was ended by last season's absence. The Warriors have an overall bowl record of 5-4 with losses in their last two.
This year's squad was led by junior QB Bryant Moniz who entered the bowl season ranked No. 1 in the FBS with 356.1 passing yards per game, and also topped the charts with 4,629 passing yards. He tied for the lead in TD passes with 36 against just 11 INT's and posted a passer rating of 161.94 to rank 10th nationally in that category.
His top target is CollegeFootballPoll.com All-American Greg Salas. The senior wide receiver ranked 2nd in the country with 106 receptions and a per-game average of 128.8 yards. He was No. 1 nationally in receiving yards with 1,675 and scored 12 touchdowns.
Hawaii has another CFP All-American in senior defensive back Mana Silva, the nation's co-leader in interceptions with 8.
As a unit, the Hawaii defense ranks 38th overall. It will be tasked with the objective of slowing down Tulsa's 5th-ranked, balanced offense.
These teams have met 8 times with Hawaii holding a series advantage of 5-3. The teams were both members of the WAC from 1999-2004. Tulsa left to join Conference USA beginning with the 2005 season.
Kickoff for the 2010 SHERATON HAWAI‘I BOWL is set for Friday, December 24 at 8 p.m. EST/3 p.m. HST, live on ESPN.