Hawaii was one of the worst teams in college football in turnover margin at minus-11, which ranked 121st in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The Hawaii Bowl, a 52-35 victory over Middle Tennessee, was a complete reversal of that trend.
The Rainbow Warriors went plus-3 in turnover margin and scored 21 points off said turnovers to take a 35-21 halftime lead, and Hawaii never looked back in arguably its best game of the season.
Though Hawaii's defense didn't slow Middle Tennessee's offense completely -- Blue Raiders receiver Richie James still had 162 receiving yards -- it did an exceptionally good job getting pressure on quarterback Brent Stockstill, who was playing in his first game back from a collarbone injury. Hawaii forced Stockstill into two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
However, it wasn't just defense getting the job done for Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors relied on a heavy dose of the run game -- a much-improved part of the offense this year -- to set up downfield shots, big plays and even a fake punt. Quarterback Dru Brown only connected with leading receiver Marcus Kemp three times, but Kemp did haul in a touchdown -- one of four thrown by Brown.
The win moves Hawaii to 7-7 on the season. First-year coach Nick Rolovich did an excellent job of taking a program that had suffered through five straight losing seasons to a bowl game (and .500 record) right away. It would appear Rolovich has his program headed in the right direction after winning its first bowl game in a decade.
The Blue Raiders fall to 8-5 to end the 2016 season.