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Bowl Season Takes Us To Honolulu

After stumbling a bit with our bowl picks last night. . .and losing the hope that the service academies could come out of this post-season undefeated after all three schools qualified for post-season play for the first time in a while. . .we'll try to get ourselves back on track with the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, a game that should provide a very entertaining match-up between two of the more prolific offenses in the nation.

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Tonight's match-up sees the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (9-3, 6-2 in Conference USA) taking a trip to the big island to take on the Hawai'i Warriors (10-3, 7-1 in the Western Athletic Conference). As I've already stated, both of these teams have extremely high-powered offenses, with both ranking in the top ten in all of college football in both yards gained and points scored. In terms of yardage, Tulsa comes in ranked fifth in the country at an average of 503.5 yards per game, while Hawai'i is eighth with 496.8 yards per game. Hawai'i is ranked eighth in the country in tems of scoring, averaging 39.9 points a contest, and Tulsa is right behind them in tenth with a 39.7 points per game average.

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The difference between these two offenses is the amount of balance they have. Hawai'i enters this contest as the most prolific passing team in the NCAA, as they've averaged 403.8 yards a game through the air this season, but their rushing game is all the way down at 106th at a mere 109.1 yards per game. Tulsa, on the other hand, is much more balanced, ranking 18th in the nation in passing offense (295.3 yards/game) and 15th in rushing yards (219.3 yards/game).

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With two great offenses, you would expect two great quarterbacks, and that's what this game gives us. Junior signal caller Bryant Moniz leads the Hawai'i attack, and has put up some great numbers this year, completing two-thirds of his passes and compiling a TD-to-INT ratio of 36/11. On the other side, Tulsa counters with junior G.J. Kinne, who leads the Golden Hurricane in both passing and rushing on the season. Between his arm and his legs, Kinne has accounted for 35 touchdowns this season.

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One of the players to keep an eye on in this one is one of the truly underrated wide receivers in the country in Hawai'i's Greg Salas. The 6'2", 210-pound receiver from Chino, CA has caught 106 passes in each of the last two seasons, generating 3,265 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns over that span.

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You'll note that I haven't mentioned the defenses yet. Hawai'i's defense, to be honest, really isn't that bad. They're ranked 39th in the nation, and a ball-hawking secondary led by safety Mana Silva has generated 23 interceptions (Silva has 8 of those picks himself). Tulsa's defense, on the other hand? They're pretty bad. . .like 107th out of 120 FBS schools bad. Their pass defense? 119th. . .which, if you're doing the math, means that there was only one team in the FBS with a worse pass defense than Tulsa.

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Hmmmmm. . .the nation's number one passing offense against the second-worst pass defense in the FBS? Makes for a pretty easy pick, from where I sit. Look for Moniz and Salas to turn Tulsa's trip to paradise into an ugly one. Tulsa will get their share of points, but they've got no shot at slowing down the Warriors' passing attack.

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SB Nation Minnesota prediction: Hawai'i 52, Tulsa 38
SB Nation Minnesota record thus far: 4-2

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Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.