There's no question the Warriors have bounced back this season, but the Tulsa football team is experiencing a resurgence as well. The Golden Hurricane won just five games last season. This year a 9-3 mark has them bowling for the first time since 2008.
"It was a big motivating factor. Before last season we had back-to-back 10-win seasons," said Charles David, Tulsa defensive back. "Set the school record for most wins. We just felt like we let that senior class down, and we let our program down."
That's why despite soggy conditions in Waikiki, Tulsa couldn't be happier to be in Hawaii. This time last season they were sitting at home. This week they still have something to play for, even if Hawaii's setting has been less than ideal.
"We're thrilled to be here, and some people have asked me about the weather," said Todd Graham, Tulsa head coach. "It's 34 degrees in Tulsa, so we're loving the weather."
The Golden Hurricane know this week could be the calm before the storm. Hawaii's offense is tops in the nation, while quarterback Byrant Moniz leads the country in total offense with 362 yards per outing. He also added 36 touchdowns and 4,629 passing yards. In order to contain Moniz, Tulsa says they'll rely on the reps they see every day from their own versatile quarterback G.J. Kinne.
"They're both great quarterbacks," said Davis. "They both do a great job of using their feet to beat defenders, and they both get rid of the ball to the open receivers. The best thing is not to let them beat you."
Receivers Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares each surpassed 1,000 yards receiving, while Alex Green become the seventh UH running back to crack the 1,000-yard mark in a season. Todd Graham was an assistant for Tulsa in 2003 and 2004. He says this is a much different UH attack from the one he faced.
"It was really a pass first and they didn't really run it all," said Graham. "But I'm impressed with the balance they have. They take what you give 'em. Their offense will be a handful."
The Warriors defense will also prove to be a handful. UH topped the country in takeaways this season with 36 total turnovers, include 23 interceptions.