2010 Hawaii Bowl - Tulsa vs. Hawaii
Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz & Tulsa QB G.J. Kinne
Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz & Tulsa QB G.J. Kinne
Posted Dec 24, 2010

It's probably going to be the best time you'll have this bowl season. Leave the tough ground games for someone else, forget about defense, and blow off the slugfests. Hawaii vs. Tulsa should be sheer eye candy as two of the nation's best offenses go at it. Check out CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2010 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, and Happy Holidays!

2010 Sheraton Hawaii

(10-3) vs. Tulsa (9-3)

Friday, December 24th 8:00 ESPN  

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Pick ATS: Hawaii  Confidence Score: 13
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 4 out of 35
SCROLL DOWN to the bottom for all the CFNers' confidence picks and bowl history
By Richard Cirminiello

This year's Hawaii Bowl figures to be an early Christmas present for fans of high-octane offenses and breathtaking backdrops.

This game has had a knack over the years of pairing opponents at Aloha Stadium in an entertaining and high-scoring game. The 2010 edition won't be any different. The track will be fast, the weather should be ideal, and both Tulsa and Hawaii rank in the top 10 nationally in total offense and scoring offense. Let the fun begin.

National Rankings
Tulsa   UH
5th Total
107th Total
10th Scoring
83rd Scoring
15th Rushing
40th Rushing
16th Passing
119th Passing
7th Turnover
Position Rankings
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
Tulsa   UH
5 QBs 5
4 RBs 3
5 WRs 5
3 O Line 2
3 D Line 3
3 LBs
1.5 DBs 3
4 STs 3.5
4 Coach 4
CFN 2010 2011 CFN Bowl Previews & Confidence Picks
- New Mexico - BYU vs. UTEP
- Human. - Fresno St vs. NIU
- New Orleans - Troy vs. Ohio
- St. Pete - UL vs. So Miss
- Las Vegas - Utah vs. Boise St
- Poinsettia - SDSU vs. Navy
- Hawaii - Tulsa vs. Hawaii
- Little Caesars - Toledo vs. FIU
- Ind. - Air Force vs. GT
- Champs - NC St vs. WVU
- Insight - Iowa vs. Mizz
- Military - Mary. vs. ECU
- Texas - Illinois vs. Baylor
- Alamo - Ok St vs. Arizona
- Armed Forces - SMU vs. Army
- Pinstripe - SU vs. KSU
- Music City - UNC vs. Tenn
- Holiday - Neb vs. Wash
- Meineke - USF vs. Clemson
- Sun - Miami vs. ND
- Liberty - UCF vs. Georgia
- Chick-fil-A - FSU vs. USC
- TicketCity - NW vs. TT
- Outback - PSU vs. Florida
- Capital One - MSU vs. Bama
- Gator - Mich vs. Miss St
- GoDaddy - MU vs. MT
- Cotton - A&M vs. LSU
- Compass - Pitt vs. UK
- Kraft - BC vs. Nevada
- Rose - UW vs. TCU
- Fiesta - OU vs. UConn
- Orange - Stan. vs. VT
- Sugar - Ark. vs. OSU
- BCS Champ. - Aub. vs. Oregon
It has quietly been a terrific season for the Warriors, which had modest expectations when the season began, but went on to finish in a three-way tie with Boise State and Nevada for the WAC title. They lost to the Broncos, 42-7, on Nov. 6, but defeated the Wolf Pack, 27-21, on Oct. 16. Winners of nine of the last 10 games, Hawaii enters the postseason ranked No. 24 in the BCS standings, a huge achievement for third-year coach Greg McMackin. Just 6-7 a year ago, McMackin has successfully—and surprisingly—dispelled the notion that 10-win seasons would be a thing of the past now that June Jones is at SMU.

As has been the case in the past, Hawaii's success has been spearheaded by the play of the offense. The Warriors lead the country in passing at 387 yards a game and average just under 40 points a weekend, riding the right arm of gunslinging QB Bryant Moniz. Dave Aranda's defense, though, has been no slouch either. While not exactly air-tight, the unit has exceeded expectations all year and is a key reason why the program ranks No. 2 nationally in turnover margin. Hawaii is healthy, confident, and determined to deliver its third 11-win season in the last five years.

Tulsa, too, has rebounded from a miserable season, getting to 9-3 after going 5-7 a year ago. Since ironically falling to Jones' Mustang team on Oct. 9, the Golden Hurricane has yet to lose, winning six consecutive games. In that run was a historically important upset of Notre Dame in South Bend and a victory over West Division rival Houston. It played well enough to take the division and appear in the Conference USA title game, but that loss to SMU haunted it right up until the final weekend of the regular season.

The Golden Hurricane is one of the nation's most balanced teams, ranking 15th in passing, 16th in rushing, and No. 5 overall on offense. It possesses a slew of different weapons, all operating around multi-dimensional QB G.J. Kinne. The defense has clearly been the lesser half in Tulsa, though it's been compensating by ranking No. 7 nationally in turnover margin and tops in Conference USA takeaways.

If not for the uniforms, it'd be hard to tell these two schools apart. The carbon copies have rebounded from losing seasons, feature wide-open offenses, and are getting unexpected support from opportunistic defenses. No matter the final score, the big winners will be an audience that gets treated to one of the more entertaining and exciting games of the entire three-week postseason.

Players to Watch: Tulsa's 119th-ranked pass defense will face an enormous challenge on Friday night. Not only has Moniz become a whiz in this system, throwing 36 touchdown passes, but he'll have access to a deep and talented corps of receivers. Four different Warriors have at least 500 receiving yards, led by the dynamic tandem of Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares, who've combined for 27 touchdown receptions. Salas is a 6-2, 210-pound target with outstanding hands. Pilares is smaller and quicker, and will make things happen after the catch. If they get too much attention, Moniz won't hesitate to hook up with veterans Royce Pollard and Rodney Bradley.

While Tulsa will give up yards through the air, it hopes to offset the damage with turnovers and big plays. The defensive backs are below average in coverage, but will jump the lanes and attack the route, leading to batted balls and interceptions. Two of the best examples are rookie Marco Nelson and sophomore Dexter McCoil, who have both picked off six passes this season. Excellent athletes with good size, they'll be asked to roam the field and make their presence felt wherever it's possible. The key will be to stick with Salas and Pilares as much as possible and make Moniz pay for forcing the ball.

Hawaii has thieves of its own, led by FS Mana Silva, who leads the WAC with eight interceptions. A big and physical defender, he has good instincts for the ball and enough pop to separate opposing receivers from it. He gets plenty of help on defense from CB Jeramy Bryant, LB Corey Paredes, and LB Aaron Brown, who's taken two of his three picks back for touchdowns. Paredes is the Warriors' best run defender, using his leverage and tenacity to rack up 144 tackles and all-star recognition. More than anyone else on this unit, he'll have his No. 41 called plenty in this game.

The problem with defending Tulsa is that it has so many different options. Kinne actually leads the team in rushing, but he can just as easily hand the ball to bulldozing RB Alex Singleton or give it to WR Damaris Johnson on a sweep. Nine different players have rushed for at least 100 yards this season. The Hurricane has equal depth in the receiving game, boasting 10 different players with at least a dozen receptions. The gamebreaker of the bunch is Johnson, who has scored a touchdown this season on the ground, through the air, and as a punt returner and a kickoff returner. Providing a bigger and sure-handed target for Kinne will be 6-3, 235-pound Charles Clay, who has a career in the NFL as an H-back.

Hawaii will win if ... : it continues to create turnovers at an alarming rate.

The Warrior offense is potent on its own. When the defense gets it the ball on takeaways, it becomes downright unstoppable. After starting slowly, Hawaii has gone 10 consecutive games with at least two interceptions, an unheralded trend in the team's success. In order to slow down the Tulsa attack, it'll have to strip the ball and force Kinne into mistakes, which hasn't happened with great regularity this season. In a game between similar teams, the Warriors will need to gain the edge on the defensive side of the ball. That could mean a momentum-changing pick from Silva, a fourth down stop by Paredes, or a forced error from DE Kamalu Umu. If Hawaii keeps controlling turnover margin, there's no way it loses this game.

Tulsa will win if ... : it has success moving the ball on the ground.

More precisely, if the Golden Hurricane can rush for at least 200 yards, it'll be tough to stop. When it's hit that number this season, it's gone 7-0, keeping defenses on its heels and helping make Kinne markedly more effective. Tulsa is all about the balance, spreading the field and spreading the wealth around. It'll also be important to keep everyone's legs fresh, especially in Hawaii and after a lengthy layoff. While aggressive and opportunistic, the Warrior defense is beatable. If the Hurricane can get all of its playmakers involved, it'll not only keep Moniz & Co. pacing on the sidelines, but also keep it one step ahead on the scoreboard. Tulsa is at its best when it can be unpredictable and dig deep into the playbook.

What will happen: It's not common for a school to have a home field edge in a bowl game. For the sixth time in the last dozen years, Hawaii will, which will be a deciding factor in an otherwise very close game.

These schools are near mirror images of one another, which makes the venue even more important for the Warriors. No travel, home cooking, and a considerable edge in the stands. As expected, both offenses will get up and down the field as if they were playing on hardwood, punting infrequently and scoring liberally. The battle between Moniz and Kinne will be one of the most intriguing of the postseason, with both quarterbacks piling up huge numbers. When the final dust settles nearly four later, the Hawaii D will have played an underrated role, creating the turnovers that protect a narrow margin of victory.

CFN Prediction: Hawaii 41 … Tulsa 37 ... Line: Hawaii -10
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Hawaii Bowl History
2009 SMU 45, Nevada 10
2008 Notre Dame 49, Hawaii 21
2007 East Carolina 41, Boise St 38
2006 Hawaii 41, Arizona State 24
2005 Nevada 49, UCF 48 OT
2004 Hawaii 59, UAB 40
2003 Hawaii 54, Houston 48 3OT
2002 Tulane 36, Hawaii 28

Pick ATS: Hawaii  Confidence Score: 13
OVERALL CONFIDENCE (35 most - 1 least): 4 out of 35

Pete Fiutak: Pick ATS - Tulsa   Pick Confidence - 30
- Defense is boring. Demand 65-61 between two teams that put their feet on the offensive gas pedal and don't let up. Hawaii is first in the nation in passing and has hung up 159 points in its last three games and 45 or more in five of its last six games. Tulsa is fifth in the nation in total offense and beat Southern Miss 56-50 to close out the regular season.

Richard Cirminiello: Pick ATS - Tulsa   Pick Confidence - 29
- The Hawaii Bowl rarely disappoints with  its pairing, this game being no exceptions. On Christmas Eve, points and passing yards will be as abundant as bad gifts and overbearing relatives.

Matt Zemek: Pick ATS - Hawaii  Pick Confidence - 20
- The Golden Hurricane on the islands will make for a spectacular sunset (and football game) on Christmas Eve afternoon in Honolulu. Okay, enough with the over-the-top wording. Seriously, though: This should be a fun, high-scoring game with lots of aerial action.

Russ Mitchell: Pick ATS - Hawaii  Pick Confidence - 33
- If you're a fan of flag football you'll love this game. If you prefer some tackling with your football, skip it.

Barrett Sallee: Pick ATS - Hawaii  Pick Confidence - 4
- Lost in the WAC madness this season is the fact that Hawaii had a pretty good season. These two top 10 offenses should make this one exciting. Can you say shootout?

Gabe Harris: Pick ATS - Hawaii   Pick Confidence - 24
Brian Harbach: Pick ATS - Hawaii   Pick Confidence - 5
Matthew Smith: Pick ATS - Tulsa   Pick Confidence - 28
Billy Gomila: Pick ATS - Hawaii  Pick Confidence -  34
Clucko (A coin flip): Pick ATS - Tulsa   Pick Confidence -  24