2006 Hawaii Bowl - Arizona State vs. Hawaii

Posted Dec 14, 2006

It should be the shootout of bowl shootouts as Colt Brennan and Hawaii get a national stage Christmas Eve night against Arizona State in the 2006 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

Hawaii (10-3) vs. Arizona State (7-5)

Dec. 24, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

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Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Player Profile: Hawaii WR Davone Bess, team bowl history and more

If you life somewhere east of the Rocky Mountains, or if you missed Hawaii's early season game against Alabama, chances are you haven't seen Colt Brennan and the Warrior offense in action. Simply put, it's the real deal, and it's a must-see just to see what an easy 400-yard passing day looks like.

It's Hawaii, it's Arizona State, in the final game of the Dirk Koetter coaching era, and it's in Honolulu. There might be other early bowl games that turn out to be better, and there might be some that'll be better played, but for sheer eye-candy on Christmas Eve, this is one to ditch family Christmas carol time for.

Koetter is now dancing with someone else's date as Dennis Erickson, the former Idaho/Oregon State/Miami/San Francisco 49er/Seattle Seahawk/Idaho coach, will take over as soon as the final whistle blows. Known as an offensive wizard before coming to Tempe, and with big-time offensive coordinator jobs out there for the taking, it'll be interesting to see if Koetter pulls out all his tricks to make this the track meet that offensive football fans are drooling for.

National Rankings
Arizona State Hawaii
Total Offense
43rd  365.33 ypg 1st  549.92 ypg
Total Defense
27th  298.5 ypg 93rd  376.77 ypg
Scoring Offense
42nd  27 ppg 1st  47.31 ppg
Scoring Defense
68th  23.75 ppg 70th  24.08 ppg
Run Offense
33rd  167.17 ypg 86th  117.69 ypg
Run Defense
36th  116.58 ypg 53rd  131.15 ypg
Pass Offense
59th  198.17 ypg 1st  432.23 ypg
Pass Defense
34th  181.92 ypg 109th  245.62
Turnover Margin
67th  -0.08 52nd  0.08
Arizona State
N Arizona W 35-14
Nevada W 52-21
at Colorado W 21-3
at California L 49-21
L 48-13
at USC L 28-21
W 38-3
at Wash W 26-23OT
at Oreg St L 44-10
Wash St
W 47-14
UCLA L 24-12
at Arizona W 28-14
at Alabama L 25-17
UNLV W 42-13
at Boise St L 41-34
E Illinois
W 44-9
Nevada W 41-34
at Fres St W 68-37
at N
MSU W 49-30
Idaho W 68-10
at Utah St W 63-10
La Tech W 61-17
SJSU W 54-17
Purdue W 42-35
Oregon St L 35-32
Position Ratings
relative to each other
ASU 5 highest
1 lowest
4 Quarterbacks 5
3.5 RBs 3.5
3.5 Receivers 5
2.5 O Line 3
4 D Line 3.5
4 Linebackers 3
4 Secondary 2.5
3.5 Spec Teams 3
3 Coaching 3.5

The demise of the high expectations for the Sun Devils started just before the season opener when Koetter chose to go with Sam Keller at quarterback, reversed decision and went with Rudy Carpenter, and then lost Keller to Nebraska. Carpenter pressed too much, there wasn't a steady receiver to hit the home runs like Derek Hagan did in 2005, and after a 3-0 start, ASU lost three straight Pac 10 games and was out of the race before it could begin.

While the Sun Devils closed out with a nice win over Arizona, and blew away Washington State in mid-November, they only went 1-5 against bowl teams with the lone victory coming over Nevada. Even after all the problems, disappointments, and the firing of Koetter, ASU can finish with eight wins for just the third time in eight years.

On the other side, Hawaii is shooting for its first 11-win season since 1992 highlighted by the nation's number one offense averaging 550 yards per game, number one scoring offense averaging 47.31 yards per game, and passing offense averaging 432 yards per outing. This isn't a gimmick attack; this is a dangerous passing attack with a thunderously effective running game that isn't just an afterthought.

As good as the Warriors are, there's still a hint of skepticism on a national scale. Part of it comes from no one actually seeing how good they are, and part of it comes from blowing up several bad teams. Even thought they beat bowl-bound Purdue, San Jose State and Nevada, and battled Boise State and Alabama in close losses, the respect isn't there. Who cares? This is the most fun team to watch in college football.

If Arizona State's passing game gets going, 800 passing yards between the two teams is a decent goal with points and big plays flying all over the place. This bowl won't prove anything, it won't change the college football world, and there might not be much to take from it no matter what happens. It'll just be a wild game. Merry Christmas.

Players to watch: Can Rudy Carpenter match Colt Brennan punch for punch? A far cry from last year when he led the nation in passing efficiency, Carpenter struggled early on throwing nine interceptions in the first five games bottoming out with a 6-of-19, 33-yard day in a 48-13 loss to Oregon. He only threw for over three yards twice this year, and while he stepped up his play over the second half of the season, he hasn't been consistent. To have a shot, Carpenter has to bomb away and complete close to 65% of his passes.

As good as you think Brennan might be after looking at the numbers (373 of 517 for 4,990 yards and 53 touchdowns and 11interceptions with five rushing touchdowns), he's been even better. He's not Timmy Chang; he's a top 50 NFL draft pick with mobility, a good arm, but not a oh-my-goodness one, and great decision making ability. Since coming to Hawaii he has thrown 88 touchdowns in the last two years throwing for over 300 yards in 21 of 25 career games with 11 400-yard games and a 515-yard, seven touchdown performance last year against New Mexico State.

While the Hawaii passing game gets all the headlines, monster RB Nate Ilaoa is an All-WAC caliber playmaker who's almost impossible to get down when he gets a head of steam. At 5-9 and somewhere between 245 and 260 pounds depending on the day, he's a good runner and a nightmare when he catches the ball in open space. He ran for 893 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, with 13 touchdowns and caught 63 passes for 781 yards and five scores.

Arizona State will win if... get Carpenter hot from throw one against the nation's 109th ranked pass defense. Forget about controlling the tempo with the running game. Forget about trying to slow down Hawaii. Brennan will throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns; accept it and deal. Carpenter was in a groove early against Washington State and rolled for 339 yards and three touchdowns and got hot against Nevada and threw five touchdowns passes. This isn't the time to find offensive balance. In Koetter's last game, it's time to bomb away. If Carpenter isn't throwing well, the Sun Devils might as well hit the beach.

Hawaii will win if... it gets the pass rush rolling. Part of Carpenter's problem this year was his view; he spent most of his time on his back with the Sun Devil line allowing 33 sacks. Hawaii's All-WAC defensive linemen Melila Purcell and Ikaika Alama-Francis should be able to generate consistent pressure and should be able to force Carpenter to hurry his throws. It's not like Carpenter is going to run for big yards, and he's not at his best throwing on the move, so if Jerry Glanville's defense is able to constantly bother him, the Sun Devils aren't going to be able keep up the offensive pace.

What will happen: Shootout, shootout, shootout. Arizona State will get its shots in and has a good enough defense, with a strong enough pass rush, to keep Hawaii from running away with the game, but it doesn't have enough overall offensive firepower to get the job done. Brennan will need a late scoring drive to finally put ASU away, and unlike the Oregon State game, he's not going to short arm his final throw. Expect a fantastic game that might be the best of the bowl season.

Line: Hawaii -8.5 ... CFN Prediction:
Hawaii 38 ... Arizona State 31

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Player Profile: Hawaii WR Davone Bess, team bowl history and more