When a volcano erupts it can get awfully fiery and the lava could melt anything in the way until it cools off. The University of Hawaii Warriors football team is just as hot, but they don’t want to cool off. Going forward, they’ve won nine of their last 10 games.
The football team representing the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane is also wearing the ring of fire. They’ve won eight of their last nine.
This will be a match between the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA.
The combatants will meet up in the ninth annual Hawai’i Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. On Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN, they’ll get it in. With a payout of over $700,000 for both NCAA Division I programs, the competition will be fiery.
Neither team does much trash-talking. Fanning the flames of a hot team can be dangerous.
Can the strong winds of the Hurricane blow some of the Hawaii pass attempts down? They’d better, if they want to be competitive in the Hawai’i Bowl. They should see a lot of flying objects and some opportunities for interceptions.
Once known as the “Rainbow Warriors,” Hawaii could send enough footballs flying through the sky to make it rain. Which team, meanwhile, will rain on the others victory parade?
Like their wide receivers were on parade, Hawaii (10-3, 7-1) sports the No. 1 pass offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Hawaii is the only state made up entirely of North Pacific Ocean islands. Leaving Tulsa’s cornerbacks on an island against Greg Salas could get ugly.
One of the nation’s best wide receivers and best kept secrets, Hawaii’s Salas scored 24 touchdowns this season.
His quarterback, Bryant Moniz, leads the FBS in total offense. He had 4,629 yards and 36 touchdowns passing. Moniz’s game is like a combination of the young Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan—old school highlight reel Rainbow Warriors quarterbacks.
In this game, the Warriors come in ranked No. 8 in total offense.
Tulsa (9-3, 6-2) also has a volcanic offense. Averaging over 500 yards per game, they have the No. 5 offense in college football (FBS). Win or lose in the Hawai'i Bowl, they've had a solid season. The Golden Hurricane came in second place in Conference USA's West Division.
This is has also been a tremendous season for Hawaii and their coach, Greg McMackin. He led the program from a losing record last season to the cusp of a bowl victory this one. It is the first bowl game for the Rainbow Warriors since June Jones led them to the 2008 Sugar Bowl.
Jones is widely recognized as one of the top innovators of the run-and-shoot offense that made Hawaii famous.
Tulsa, too, can sling the pig skin. They’re ranked No. 16 in pass offense. In major college ball, G.J. Kinne is the No. 4 ranked player in terms of total offense.
As Player of the Year in Conference USA as a junior, he rushed for over 700 yards and threw for over 3,300. He could be a Heisman candidate next season. Like surfers in the Pacific, through potentially tackling waves he is known to go gliding.
Surrounded by natural beauty, tropical climate, clear waters and cool waves, Alex Green is Hawaii’s first 1,000-yard back since 1992. In the last six games, he put up 100-yard rushing games four. He’s scored 17 rushing touchdowns. Tulsa’s defense could have their hands full with him.
Tulsa’s defense is where they really struggle. They’re ranked No. 107 of 120 FBS squads in total defense. Their pass defense is ranked 119th.
Surprisingly, in total defense, Hawaii ranked 39th. Watch for a dynamic safety named Mana Silva, who intercepted eight of their 23 total.
With two gunslingers at quarterback, "Shootout at the Aloha Stadium Corral," could be the name of this game.
From a cowboy state (Oklahoma), Tulsa’s only losses were to East Carolina, Oklahoma State and SMU. They lost by two points, each, to ECU and SMU. Their most notable win came against Notre Dame on Oct. 30 in South Bend, Ind.
The Golden Hurricane is unranked in the BCS top 25, but this will be their fifth bowl game in six years. They’ll have to get their minds off paradise and play ball in the bowl in Hawaii.
A tropical paradise more than a smash-mouth football team, the Warriors finished first in the WAC. They're ranked No. 24 in the BCS.
I’ve done OK in predicting the outcomes of BCS games in the past. Let’s find out how I do on this particular game.
This is an exciting and intriguing football matchup because of the contrasts in styles of play.
Hawaii is No. 106 in rush offense. Tulsa is No. 15. The Warriors ran the ball only about 280 times. The Hurricane had well over 500 carries for the season, and they're very comfortable running the ball at home.
Aloha Stadium has hosted a lot of Pro Bowls and Hula Bowls. It's also the home of the Hawaii Warriors, and it will prove to be a huge advantage in the Hawai'i Bowl.
In the Hawaiian language, Aloha means affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy. The Hawaii Warriors won’t have any mercy on the Tulsa defense. The home advantage will be too much for the Golden Hurricane to overcome.
Hawaii wins it, 45-36.