74th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl ~ January 1, 2008
#4 Georgia 41 (Final: 11-2, #2)
#10 Hawai’i 10 (Final: 12-1, #19)
“Aloha,” most people on the U.S. mainland know, means both “hello” and “goodbye” in Polynesian. And while the people of New Orleans welcomed the islanders to the Big Easy, the Georgia Bulldogs used the other definition to send the Warriors back home.
How Georgia and Hawai’i Met in the 2008 Allstate Sugar Bowl
While Hawai’i entered the contest with a gaudy offense, the game was characterized by one play: Georgia defensive end Marcus Howard sped through the shredded Hawaii line, took aim at his target, and crashed into back-peddling Heisman finalist Colt Brennan at the Warriors’ 5-yard line. The ball popped free and rolled into the end zone, where Howard recovered it for the score.
The touchdown for Howard gave him as many as the vaunted Warrior run-and-shoot offense would get for the night. It lifted the third-quarter score to 31-3 as the Bulldogs dispatched the upstarts from the islands.
Brennan – and Hawai‘i – got a stiff dose of reality in going against the SEC’s Bulldogs. The Warriors’ quarterback was sacked eight times for minus 53 yards, and was hurried or hit on at least that many when he did get a pass off. He threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles while finishing 22-of-38 for 164 yards, less than half of his 348-yard average. Hawai‘i as a team was held to 306 yards, 228 fewer than its average – and 151 of that total came in the fourth quarter.
“It just shows it’s not always about offense,” said Howard, the game’s MVP after recording three sacks, forcing two fumbles, and tipping a ball that turned into a Bulldog interception. “Defense wins ball games, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Bulldogs Head Coach Mark Richt, a little surprised himself, said, “Our guys just kept coming. We wanted to force Colt (Brennan) to throw faster than he wanted to. We really didn’t think we’d get that many sacks, and we knew when they did complete passes we had to give up zero yards after the catch. Our guys tackled extremely well today.”
Georgia scored the first four times it had the ball, on runs of 17 and 11 yards by redshirt freshman tailback Knowshon Moreno, a 52-yard field goal by senior kicker Brandon Coutu, and an 11-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Matt Stafford to senior wide receiver Sean Bailey. That made the score 24-3 midway through the second quarter, and school was out for Hawaii.
“That was the fastest team I’ve probably ever seen,” a dazed Brennan said afterward. “We just couldn’t get into our groove and do what we wanted.”
“It’s great to be here in New Orleans and win this game,” Howard said. “I just wish we would have been here one week later.”
Recap excerpted from the book “Sugar Bowl Classic: A History” by Marty Mulé, who covered the game and the organization for decades for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.