|Hawaii celebrates its 12-0 record, invite to Sugar Bowl|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 02 December 2007 18:33|
HONOLULU (AP) -Thousands of fans packed into an arena and an entire state erupted in celebration Sunday.|
The reason? No. 10 Hawaii was rewarded for being the nation's only unbeaten team with an at-large bid to the Sugar Bowl to face No. 4 Georgia.
The roar from the chanting, green-clad crowd at Stan Sheriff Center was deafening.
``It's not just a football team that's going to the BCS, it's the whole state of Hawaii,'' quarterback Colt Brennan said.
The Aloha State has been in a football frenzy for the past two weeks, starting with Hawaii's win over last year's BCS buster Boise State to win its first outright Western Athletic Conference title.
On Saturday night, the Warriors (12-0) completed their perfect season with a dramatic come-from-behind 35-28 victory over Washington.
The football team has been a fixture on the front page of the local newspapers. Electronic signs on the city buses all say, ``Go Warriors!'' University of Hawaii-branded merchandise is the hottest selling gift this Christmas season.
Fans waited hours to get into the arena for the celebration and BCS announcement. A few thought the Warriors not only deserved a BCS berth, but a shot at the national championship.
``It doesn't feel real right now,'' Brennan said. ``It's been a great ride and to get a BCS bowl berth is a true and great accomplishment.''
Brennan said he realizes there still will be skeptics and critics who don't believe Hawaii should be in the BCS.
``We didn't say anything when those guys were talking all that. We just focused on winning,'' he said. ``There's a lot of people out there looking pretty stupid.''
At the celebration, the band played the school's fight song, while cheerleaders and mascot Vili the Warrior charged up the crowd. The Warriors also performed their haka war dance. Because of audio problems, the fans couldn't hear Brennan and coach June Jones, but it didn't seem to matter.
``Sugar is definitely sweet,'' Brennan said. ``We're rolling in and we're excited and we're going to do it Hawaiian style.''
Athletic director Herman Frazier said he expects the school will receive $4.5 million to $5 million from the BCS berth before expenses are taken out.
Hawaii moved up a spot to 10th in the AP Poll, the highest ranking in school history. It also received a first-place vote for the first time ever.
The Warriors feel a victory over the Bulldogs would prove how good they truly are.
``We've come so far,'' Warriors receiver Davone Bess said. ``This season has been about believing and having faith. Last night showed what kind of season we had all year.''
Georgia has been one of the best teams in the country over the last six weeks. The Bulldogs (10-2) head to the their second Sugar Bowl in three seasons on a six-game winning streak.
Brennan didn't know much about Georgia, other than it wins a lot and is a football powerhouse.
``I'm sure they're a great football team with SEC talent. I'm sure they got a great defense. They were up for a national championship bid. It's going to be the toughest game ever for us,'' he said. ``But we're so grateful to be here and so excited for the opportunity that in a weird way, we're almost ready.''
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