Wisconsin gives Hawaii 1 more embarrassing loss


POSTED: Sunday, December 06, 2009

Santa Claus made the longest run of the game at Aloha Stadium last night, sprinting the length of the field and into the arms of a policeman during the third quarter of Hawaii's 51-10 loss to Wisconsin that ended the Warriors' season at 6-7.

He wasn't the only guy in red and white running free and basically doing whatever he wanted.

These were two teams from two different worlds of football. Hawaii had no answer for Wisconsin's size and skill.

We can only hope Santa will be out of the pokey in time to make his list. He won't have to check it twice to know Hawaii isn't on it—UH is officially out of the picture for the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.

Were the Warriors ever really in it?

Not if they were counting on winning this game. In August, seven W's looked difficult even without counting the Badgers as one.

You can blame injuries. You can blame a one-point loss at UNLV. But anyone thinking this team was destined for a winning season before it started was either delusional or too close to the program. Not enough experience, not enough depth.

As for last night specifically, the Warriors were outclassed by a very good team. This was not Navy, which Hawaii matched up well with in size and talent, and which it outcoached.

Over the course of the season, UH dealt with adversity and deserves credit for the heart and focus to stem a six-game losing streak—things could've gotten worse. As the Warriors began to build up the wins, the optimists' mantra was keep it going, get to the finale against Wisconsin, and then anything can happen.

Dreams don't have to be logical. But some are more nonsensical than others. Beating Wisconsin was a pretty crazy idea from the start, largely because of the feats of Clay ... John Clay, the 6-foot-1, 248-pound beast of a sophomore running back who will be a Heisman candidate next fall.

Clay is the kind of big back that just pounds away at defenses and never stops. He rumbled for more than 100 yards before halftime. On the first score, Clay dived into the end zone from 2 yards out. How do you stop a guy like that? And where do you find one?

That's Greg McMackin's job now, seal the deal with the best recruits he can get. It's going to be harder now than if UH had ended the season on a better note. Losing by 41 points on national TV is what the texters call NAGL ... Not A Good Look.

For the third season in a row, UH leaves the stage with an embarrassing defeat observed by many eyes outside of the state. Does the prominence of the programs dealing out the whippings make it easier to take? Not really, not if Hawaii wants to be consistently strong, like Boise State.

UH has to go all the way back to the 2006 Hawaii Bowl for a win against a quality opponent from a BCS conference, the beatdown of Arizona State.

If you want to be optimistic, you can look at McMackin's 13-14 record for his first two seasons, and point out how it's actually a few percentage points better than June Jones' 12-13 for his first two at Manoa.

You can look at a defense that returns seven starters (maybe more, if Brashton Satele or Blaze Soares can get another year).

You can look at Bryant Moniz's potential.

Just don't look at any of what happened last night against Wisconsin, and don't look at who UH plays in its next game.

USC might have two off seasons in a row, but I wouldn't count on it.

Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.