Sugar Bowl: Hawaii's Dream Season Comes to an Inglorious End
The dream is over.
Hawaii's glorious undefeated season crashed and burned New Year's Day at the Sugar Bowl against a demonstrably superior Georgia team.
The Warriors got off to a bad start, as they were flagged for delay of game on their first play from scrimmage. A false start then moved them back five more yards, and they subsequently went three and out—an omen of things to come.
The Warriors were pushed around by the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball.
Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan suffered the brunt of the Georgia defensive attack, taking eight sacks and getting rocked on numerous other hits.
Georgia got consistent pressure on Brennan with just its defensive line, only occasionally bringing the blitz. The Bulldogs' linemen simply overwhelmed the Hawaii O-line.
The success of the defensive line allowed Georgia to blanket Hawaii's receivers, leading to three interceptions of Brennan.
The theme continued when Hawaii played defense, as Georgia's offensive line stood up the Warriors, creating big holes for running backs Thomas Brown and Knowshon Moreno.
Hawaii defenders were often caught overpursuing their targets, which opened up cutback lanes for the Georgia running game.
So what does this defeat mean for Hawaii?
They persevered through disrespect, a weak schedule, and injuries to Brennan to run the table in the regular season and bust into the BCS.
But their subpar performance in a big-time bowl gives their critics ample ammunition to never allow them in again.
It's unfair to compare Hawaii's showing to Boise State's Fiesta Bowl shocker over Oklahoma last year.
You can bet Georgia coach Mark Richt told his players over and over, 'Don't make the same mistake the Sooners did—don't take this team lightly.'
Hawaii didn't have the chance to take Georgia by surprise.
Lest we forget, Georgia is an excellent team. The Bulldogs beat four ranked teams this year, including Florida and Auburn.
Still, the game was expected to be competitive. Instead, Hawaii turned in their worst performance of the season.
But all is not lost for the Warriors.
Brennan may be graduating, but recent years have shown that the offensive system can and will produce without him.
Despite the big loss, Coach June Jones should be able to leverage the exposure from the Sugar Bowl into more recruiting success.
If Jones can continue the team's offensive ways while strengthening their defensive talent, Hawaii can stay atop the WAC for years to come.
One day they may even get another shot at the BCS.
When that day comes, you can be sure the Warriors will be ready.
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