HONOLULU (AP)—Unbeaten. Record-breaking. Western Athletic Conference champion. Maybe BCS bound.
All apply to Colt Brennan and Hawaii.
The Warriors’ prolific passer threw five touchdowns to break the major college career record as No. 14 Hawaii beat No. 17 Boise State 39-27 Friday night to win its first outright WAC title.
Brennan had a message to anyone who still doubts his team is one of the nation’s best.
“That’s three weeks in a row the so-called experts and critics out there said we were going to lose and we didn’t,” he said. “Obviously they need to re-check what they’re doing because they’re wrong.”
Brennan, a week after sitting out because of a concussion, finished 40-of-53 for 495 yards for the Warriors (11-0, 8-0), who set a school record with 12 straight wins and denied the Broncos (10-2, 7-1) a sixth straight conference championship.
“He was the best college football player in America last year and he still is this year,” Warriors coach June Jones said. “If he plays good next week and we win it, he should win the Heisman Trophy.”
The WAC heavyweights traded scores and the lead until Brennan erupted for three TD tosses in the third quarter to give the Warriors their largest lead, 39-27, heading into the final quarter.
“When your rolling like that against a Boise State team, you know things are good,” Brennan said. “We knew right then and there, we were in good shape.”
The quick-striking Warriors, who have won 21 of its last 22 games and lead the nation in scoring, ran out the clock with their rare running game to seal the win as the crowd chanted, “BCS! BCS!”
Hawaii entered 15th in the Bowl Championship Series standings, needing to finish 12th or higher to secure an automatic bid to the BCS. A weak schedule has kept the Warriors from moving up the rankings, but a convincing win over last season’s BCS busters should help them make a final push. A Sugar Bowl bid could be in the Warriors’ future if they can complete a perfect season next week at home against Washington.
With the final seconds ticking off the clock and the Warriors taking a knee at the Boise State 1, players and thousands of fans spilled onto the field and celebrated the Warriors’ biggest win in school history. The players proudly held the WAC trophy in the middle of the field. Hawaii shared the WAC title in 1999 and 1992.
“To be here 11-0 with a ring and the WAC championship, I mean it seems like a fairy tale,” Brennan said.
Hawaii’s Davone Bess had a school-record 15 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Jason Rivers had 11 catches for 113 yards and a touchdown while C.J. Hawthorne added five receptions for 111 yards and a TD.
But it was Brennan’s night.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had. I’m speechless,” said Brennan, who withdrew from the NFL draft to return for one more season.
Brennan has passed for 126 TDs in his three-year career at Hawaii, which beat Boise State for the first time in seven tries. Brennan broke the record, throwing his 122nd, in the first quarter.
His 6-yard TD pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen surpassed the mark set by former Brigham Young Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer in 1991. With the pass, Brennan also broke Detmer’s record for most touchdowns responsible for with 136.
The sellout, green-clad, ti-leaf waving crowd at Aloha Stadium roared as Brennan was congratulated by teammates and officials removed the record-breaking ball. The touchdown pass tied the game at 7.
Brennan quickly added to his new record. His 123rd TD pass came on a 23-yard toss to Bess in the second quarter to give the Warriors a 19-13 lead. Brennan also had 1-yard scoring run.
Bess and Brennan also connected on a 22-yard scoring play early in the third quarter. It was their 39th scoring hookup, tying the NCAA record held by Louisiana Tech’s Tim Rattay and Troy Edwards.
“It definitely was a signature win and hopefully we will continue to roll,” said Bess.
Brennan’s fourth TD toss of the game, and 125th in his career, was a 7-yarder to Rivers that gave the Warriors a 32-27 lead. No. 5 was a 38-yarder to C.J. Hawthorne with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
Brennan entered the game holding 24 other NCAA records, including the single-season record for TD passes of 58, which he set last year.
The Warriors took a 19-17 lead into the locker room. Brennan was 20-of-27 for 241 yards and two TDs in the half.
The Broncos’ Ian Johnson also had a big first half, rushing for 75 yards and two TDs, including a 50-yarder that gave the Broncos a 7-0 lead. However, Johnson was held to just 11 yards and no scores in the second half.
Hawaii had 574 yards of offense, compared with Boise State’s 332.
Taylor Tharp was 22-of-36 for 231 yards for Boise State, which is now 52-4 in the WAC since joining the conference in 2001. They had won 17 straight WAC games, with their last loss coming in 2005 at Fresno State.
Boise State was 19th in the BCS standings and hoping to break into the big games for a second straight year. The team that wowed the college football world with its dramatic Fiesta Bowl victory last season will go back to playing in second-tier bowl games this year.
Broncos coach Chris Petersen said he was proud of his players.
“You would like to play in these kind of games where both teams could win (the WAC title),” he said. “To go to something like the Fiesta Bowl last year was great, but our goals is to go to a bowl game. We’ll give them a week off and then get after it again.”
Boise State took a 27-26 lead midway through the third quarter on a 36-yard field goal by Kyle Brotzman, setup by Dallas Dobbs’ interception.
The Broncos cut the Warriors lead to 26-24, on a 6-yard play-action pass from Tharp to Richie Brockel on fourth-and-1.