2008 Sugar Bowl Preview and Pick: Hawaii Warriors vs. Georgia Bulldogs

2008 Sugar Bowl: Hawaii Warriors (12-0) +10, 69 O/U vs. Georgia Bulldogs (10-2) -10,
69 O/U, Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana, 8:30 PM Eastern, Tuesday, January 1st

by Badger of Predictem.com

The only undefeated team in college football, the Hawaii Warriors,
get a birth into a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) game and a huge
payday when they face the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl on New
Years Day.

Hawaii was one of the only teams this year that didnt fold under the must-win
circumstances. The Rainbow Warriors did need a come-from- behind 35-28 win
the finish the season versus Washington on December 1st, but at least it
was a win. They also beat Boise State, Nevada and Fresno State (all bowl
teams) down the stretch to stay perfect and win the WAC regular season title.

Georgia has been a completely different team following the whole
team celebration in the end zone versus Florida on October 27th. The
Bulldogs drew an excessive celebration penalty, but went on the spank
the Gators, 42-30. That was win number two in the Bulldogs six-game
winning streak to finish the season. Georgias last win was on
November 24th, a 31-17 victory over in-state rival Georgia Tech.

The Sugar Bowl opened at most college football sportsbooks with Georgia as an 11-point
favorite with a 68.5 total.

Hawaii coach June Jones and Heisman-candidate quarterback Colt
Brennan have the Warrior run-n-shoot offense fine-tuned like a
machine. Brennan (4,174 yds., 71 %, 38/14 td/int) has three 1,000-
yard receivers (Ryan Grice-Mullen, Davone Bess and Jason Rivers) that
combined have 37 touchdown catches. It is because of the talent, not
necessarily the system, that the Warriors are the 3rd-ranked offense
at 529.2 yards per game (over 450 of it passing yards) and 1st in
points per game with a 46.2 average.

Georgias offense surged at the end of the year with the emergence of
running back Knowshon Mereno. Moreno (1,273 yds., 12 TDs) took the
job away from fellow running back Thomas Brown (706 yds., 9 TDs)
around mid-season and the entire offense has benefited from the
switch. QB Matthew Stafford leads the Bulldogs 71st-ranked offense
in total yardage per game (379 200/178 pass/run), and the 38th-
ranked scoring average at 31.9 points per game.

It is true, Hawaiis defense is improved. The unit finished the year
allowing 348.9 yards per game (35th), but has been scored on lately
(28 points per in last 7 games, 24.2 for the season (42nd)) and is by
no means a shutdown-type unit. They are a small and quick defense,
one that Georgia will no doubt try and test with a power running game.

Georgia is slightly better statistically, coming in at 19th in
yardage (324.7) and 28th in points allowed at 21 per game. They have
played well of late though (held Auburn, Kentucky, and Georgia Tech
to 20, 13, and 17 points down stretch), and should have enough speed
to try and run with the Hawaii receivers. They will get scored on,
that is for sure with Hawaiis offense.

Georgia has been the far better wager this season, as the Bulldogs
have gone 7-4 ATS. They are a hot bet as they’ve covered the spread
in their last three games, and it would have been five games if not
for a last-second meaningless touchdown/backdoor cover to Troy in
early November.

Hawaii has been a poor 4-6 ATS team for bettors this year. They are a
good team on turf (17-6 ATS in last 23 games), but they are also a
team that doesn’t play against a whole lot of top-flight competition
(7-18 ATS vs. teams with winning records). Surprisingly, the under
has hit in the last five Hawaii games this season, even with their
prolific offense.

The early money was put on Hawaii, as most sportsbooks have already
dropped the line from Georgia -11 to -10 or even -9 already in a
couple of books in Las Vegas. The total has remained steady at 69 to
68.5 at just about anywhere you want to look.

Badgers Pick: Sorry Hawaii fans, but I don’t see a Boise State-
like shocker in this years BCS. Georgia is hands down the best team
that Hawaii will have to face this year, and the speed on both teams
will make this game a track meet for 30 minutes. But Georgia will
wear down a small Hawaii defense in the fourth quarter to pull away
for a late cover. Take Georgia minus the points.