Hawaii 28, Houston 14. The 10 ten things you need to know about the Hawaii win over Houston in the New Mexico Bowl.
Hawaii 28, Houston 14: New Mexico Bowl
10. Houston started cold, and that was it. QB Clayton Tune gave up a weird interception deep in Cougar territory, Hawaii capitalized with a quick touchdown, and that was it … sort of.
There was one burst for Houston coming out in the second half down 21-0, but it was too late. Just when it looked like it was going to make something special with a comeback, Hawaii dropped the hammer with a kick six.
Hawai'i went coast-to-coast for 92 yards 🔥 pic.twitter.com/DBCXXounBe
— ESPN (@espn) December 24, 2020
9. As this game showed, turnovers mean everything so far in this bowl season. Houston turned it over three times, Hawaii didn’t. Memphis turned it over three times in the Montgomery Bowl win over Florida Atlantic, but that’s been it so far in the first six bowls. In the other five – including this – the winning side didn’t turn the ball over and came up with a combined 11 takeaways.
8. The American Athletic Conference got that Memphis win, but that was as mismatched a game as it could get so far. Tulane got beat by Nevada in the Famous Idaho Potato, UCF was never in it in the Boca Raton, and now this.
7. You know that cliché about a bowl team wanting it more? Hawaii apparently wanted it a whole lot. It came out with an energy and gameplan that worked from the start. Houston needed a little while to get going, and by then it was way too late. Hawaii did the same thing to Fresno State to start the season, but it was way too inconsistent.
6. You wouldn’t think of Hawaii as tough – it’s the place the world goes to relax – but the teams always play nasty. They might not have the talent, and they might not have the facilities, but there’s a chip on this program’s shoulder.
5. Chevan Cordeiro had a bit of an up-and-down year, and the Hawaii quarterback didn’t connect on any downfield passes other than the backbreaking 75-yard pass play to RB Calvin Turner. But he didn’t turn the ball over – his counterpart Clayton Tune threw three picks – and he completed 15-of-32 passes for 136 yards and three touchdowns with 33 yards rushing.
4. And here’s the really crazy part – the Hawaii offense didn’t really work. The Rainbow Warriors only generated 267 yards of total offense, had little happening with the ground game, and struggled to move the ball. This isn’t the high-octane passing Hawaii of the past, but the team was still able to get the job done.
3. West Virginia famously beat Dabo Swinney’s Clemson team 70-33 in the 2012 Orange Bowl. Since then, Holgorsen has gone 1-6 in bowl games. Even so, he was supposed to be a big upgrade for the Houston program that wanted to take things to a whole other level, and instead it’s 7-13 in two years.
Last season was supposed to be about building up for 2020, and he should get a free pass for now because of the obvious overall issues in the world. A bowl win would’ve done wonders, but after this, 2021 needs to rock.
2. The Hawaii defense was fantastic throughout. It started right away, the pressure didn’t stop, and it was over fast. Hawaii finished with five sacks, nine tackles for loss, and three takeaways, but it was the run D that totally dominated allowing just 58 yards on the ground because …
1. The pass rush was an anomaly. Hawaii only generated 13 sacks on the year before this, with three coming against Fresno State and three more against UNLV. The team had just seven sacks in the other six games, but playmaking safety Khoury Bethley and linebacker Jeremiah Pritchard brought the pressure throughout.
— Hawaii Football (@HawaiiFootball) December 25, 2020
Chalk this up to the players coming up with a big day, and also give credit to Todd Graham and the coaching staff that had a little extra time to work with and showed what they could do.Their team had the far, far better gameplan from the start.