HONOLULU (Ticker) -- High-scoring Hawaii, which reached 10 wins for the first time under coach June Jones, gets to celebrate the holidays by hosting Tulane in the inaugural Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Day.
A year ago, the Warriors were shut out of a bowl despite finishing 9-3. Hawaii did not not have to worry about that this year as it has known its postseason destination for several weeks. The Warriors were the first team to accept a bowl invitation in mid-November.
The contest could be a showcase for sophomore quarterback Timmy Chang, who directs the nation's top passing attack. The Warriors average 387.9 yards per game through the air. Chang completed 335-of-603 passes for 4,350 yards and 25 touchdowns in Hawaii's "Run-and-Shoot" offense.
Chang's favorite targets are Justin Colbert, who had 83 passes for 1,144 yards and six TDs, and Britton Komine, who grabbed 56 passes for 850 yards and 10 scores.
Jones, who coached the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers before coming to Hawaii in 1999, has quietly developed a solid program. He has led the Warriors to one 10-win season and two nine-win campaigns during his four-year tenure.
However, Hawaii survived a shootout in its regular season finale, rallying for a 41-40 victory over San Diego State in a contest that featured more than 1,200 yards of total offense.
Chang passed for 437 yards and three touchdowns, but the Warriors were outgained through the air for the first time under Jones as the Aztecs passed for 507 yards.
Tulane (7-5) earned a bowl bid despite having the distinction of being the only team to lose to Army this season. Army won a 14-10 decision in November.
But Tulane does boast one of the nation's top dual threats in junior running back Mewelde Moore, who rushed for 1,002 yards and caught 46 passes for 465 yards.
The Green Wave are making their first bowl appearance since beating Brigham Young, 41-27, in the 1998 Liberty Bowl to complete the first 12-0 season in school history. The Green Wave won their first bowl game since the 1970 Liberty Bowl and improved to 3-6 all-time in the postseason.
Hawaii's most recent bowl outing was in 1999, when it defeated Oregon State, 23-17, in the Oahu Bowl.