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Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Preview: Hawaii vs. Tulsa

Navy vs. San Diego State

Friday, December 24, 2010 8:00 PM ET ESPN

Laying the scene

Since the Hawaii Bowl was first played in 2002, the Warriors have participated six times including the 2010 installment. The Warriors have been down for the past couple of seasons, but a win here would give this team their third 11-win season in five years. The Tulsa Golden Hurricane is no stranger to high-scoring offenses, of course, although like Hawaii, they were not themselves last season, averaging 29.25 points per game in 2009 while Hawaii averaged just 22.77 points per game in '09. With both teams back to their familiar form, Hawaii averaging 39.92 points per game and Tulsa 39.67 points per game, this one promises to be a treat for anybody who likes offense. Hawaii leads the all-time series against their former-WAC rival Tulsa 5-3.

What Hawaii has to do to win

Defensively (didn't expect that, did you?), Hawaii hasn't been half bad, particularly in forcing turnovers. The Warriors, while they have turned the ball over 20 times this season, have forced 36 turnovers, the most in the country ahead of Oregon who forced 35 this season, and rank second in the nation in turnover margin behind Virginia Tech. The Hawaii D has come up with 23 interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries and is led by safety Mana Silva (see below for a profile of Silva) who is tied with Virginia Tech's Jayron Hosley for a nation's best eight interceptions. Forcing turnovers to take the ball out of the hands of a balanced offense that ranks 15th in rushing and 16th in passing will be the key to coming away with the victory in this one. Scoring a few points will be important as well.

What Tulsa has to do to win

Control the pace of the game. The Golden Hurricane, unlike the Warriors who rely heavily on the pass, has a very well-balanced offense that averages 219.33 yards on the ground and 284.17 yards through the air this season. The fifth-ranked offense will rely on a running game that has seen four players rush for more than 300 yards and at least three touchdowns this season to open things up for the passing game. Quarterback G.J. Kinne is the team's leading rusher with 557 yards and has thrown for 3,307 yards and 28 touchdowns. Second leading rusher Damaris Johnson (462 yards, 6 TD) is also the team's leading receiver with 771 yards (three touchdowns). The Golden Hurricane uses a lot of players on offense and will need to dictate the pace of the game to keep Hawaii's high-flying eighth-ranked offense off of the field.

The call

Hawaii. The turnover battle will play a major role in this game and both teams are very good at taking the ball away. Tulsa is tied for seventh in the nation in turnover margin, forcing 30 turnovers this season (19 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries) and giving the ball away 17 times. Marco Nelson and Dexter McCoil have each come away with six interceptions, tied for the third most in the nation, and should give Hawaii's passing offense some trouble, although the Golden Hurricane ranks 101st in pass efficiency defense and 119th in pass defense. If they can't keep the Warriors passing attack at bay, they won't win this game. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

Email Danny at or follow him on Twitter at DannyHobrock

Player(s) to Watch

Bryant Moniz, QB, Hawaii - Moniz brings back memories of Colt Brennan. He might not have the same stats as Brennan, but Moniz has led an offense that is number one in total offense with 361.9 yards per game. Moniz should continue to produce, as he faces a Tulsa defense that is one of the worst in the nation against the pass. Hawaii should win big, mainly because of the arm of Bryant Moniz.

Mana Silva, DB, Hawaii - Mana Silva has helped the Hawaii defense reach a nation-best 23 interceptions. Eight of those 23 interceptions came from Silva, who is tied for the lead for most interceptions this year. He changes the game plan of opposing offenses and makes the quarterback throw the other way. Silva and the Hawaii defense should have plenty of opportunities to pick off passes this week, but it won't be easy as Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne has had success throwing the ball this season. - Jared Levine

Jared is a Journalism and Sports Administration major at the University of Miami providing introspective, insight, information and opinion on the world of College Football.

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