After two mediocre seasons, Hawaii is piling up points and wins again. The Warriors' opponent has a similar story.
The Hawaii Bowl figures to be a dream matchup for fans of high-scoring contests, as the No. 24 Warriors face Tulsa on Sunday night in a matchup of two of the nation's top offensive clubs.
It has been three years since June Jones left Hawaii for SMU after an unbeaten 2007 regular season led to a Sugar Bowl appearance. The Warriors struggled to a 13-14 mark over the ensuing two years, but Jones' successor, Greg McMackin, has Hawaii nationally relevant again.
Hawaii (10-3) claimed a share of the Western Athletic Conference title and posted the sixth 10-win season in school history. The Warriors have a chance for their third 11-win effort in the last five years as they build a foundation for their move to the Mountain West in 2012.
"We've got a lot of leaders on this team, and they've all bought into the program," McMackin said. "You think of Greg Salas, all the great receivers we have around here and he has over 4,000 yards. That's big time. Then you think of what Alex (Green) is doing in the running game, he has over 1,000 yards.
"It's just a fun group to coach, it's probably the most fun group I've had to coach in a long time."
It's easy to have fun with an offense that ranks ninth in the FBS at 39.9 points per game, as Hawaii is back among the elite offensive teams after averaging 22.8 and 24.9 points in 2009 and '08, respectively. The Warriors topped the nation with 46.2 points in 2007.
That resurgence is due in large part to Bryant Moniz, who took a huge leap forward in his junior season by throwing for 4,629 yards and 36 touchdowns. He leads the country in total offense at 361.9 yards per game and threw at least three TD passes in nine games.
Salas has been his favorite target, with the slot receiver totaling 106 receptions for the second straight year.
Salas had nine 100-yard receiving games in 2010 and is the school's all-time leader with 4,131 yards. Kealoha Pilares added 88 catches for 1,306 yards and a team-high 15 TD receptions, forming a receiving duo that helped Hawaii average an FBS-best 387.8 passing yards.
Hawaii relies heavily on its passing game, but Green has provided needed balance. He ran for 1,168 yards and 17 scores to become the first Warriors running back to surpass 1,000 yards since Travis Sims in 1992.
Tulsa (9-3) is the smallest FBS school with an enrollment of nearly 4,200, but the Golden Hurricane are making their fifth bowl appearance in six years and regrouped well after their first losing season since 2004.
The Golden Hurricane, perennially among the top-scoring teams in the country, fell to 29.9 points a game while going 5-7 in '09. This season, however, they have averaged 39.7, just behind Hawaii and 10th nationally.
"We're very excited about the opportunity to go to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and play a quality opponent in a 9-3 Hawaii team," coach Todd Graham said. "Hawaii is ranked in the Top 25 nationally, and for us getting the opportunity to win a bowl game like this against a Top 25 team would be awesome for our program."
G.J. Kinne has been masterful running the spread offense and was named the Conference USA offensive player of the year. He threw for 3,307 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for a team-high 557 yards and seven scores.
Kinne is fourth in the FBS in total offense at 322.0 yards per game, helping Tulsa rank fifth in total offense with 503.5 yards, 15th in rushing (219.3) and 16th in passing (284.2).
Tulsa has four players with at least 333 rushing yards. One of them is the multi-threat Damaris Johnson, who may be the team's most dangerous player aside from Kinne.
Johnson, a wide receiver, was the C-USA special teams player of the year and is the all-time FBS leader with 3,308 kickoff return yards. He is averaging 27.4 yards on kickoff returns and 12.5 on punt returns, scoring one touchdown in each fashion.
He's also rushed for 462 yards and 9.2 per carry while adding team highs of 53 receptions and 771 yards. Johnson is averaging 191.8 yards of offense.
While defense may be an afterthought with the potency of these offenses, both teams have excellent secondaries and rank in the top seven nationally in turnover margin.
Safety Mana Silva tied for the FBS lead with eight interceptions, helping Hawaii to a nation-best 23 INTs, and is the school's all-time leader with 14. Linebackers Corey Paredes and Aaron Brown combined for seven, with Brown running two of his three INTs back for touchdowns.
Tulsa registered 19 picks, six each by defensive backs Dexter McCoil and Marco Nelson. The Golden Hurricane, though, rank 84th in scoring defense at 29.9 points per game and 107th in total defense with an average of 442.6 yards allowed.
Hawaii leads the series with Tulsa 5-3, winning four of six when the teams were WAC rivals from 1999-2004.
AccuScore has powered more than 10,000 simulations for every College Football game on ESPN.com, calculating how each team's performance changes in response to game conditions and opponent's abilities. Each game is simulated and the game is replayed a minimum of 10,000 times to generate forecasted winning percentages.
Two of the most prolific offenses in the country face off on Christmas Eve: Tulsa ranks No. 5 in the country in total offense, while Hawaii ranks No. 8. Two great quarterbacks to watch, as well: G.J. Kinne for the Golden Hurricane and Bryant Moniz for the Warriors. Hawaii is 3-2 in its past five bowl appearances. So is Tulsa. -- Andrea Adelson