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Hawaii jumps out, comes back, hangs on for wild bowl win over BYU

When it comes to why college football fans love bowl games, BYU and Hawaii were Exhibit A Christmas Eve night.

Hawaii’s Cole McDonald passed for 199 yards in the first quarter of the Hawaii Bowl. He had 331 yards at halftime. And four touchdowns, too -- three passing, one rushing. And his team held just a 31-24 lead at halftime as Zach Wilson threw for 209 yards -- and BYU ran for three touchdowns in the first two quarters.

In the halftime locker room, the defenses inexplicably were awakened as just 17 points were scored in the second half. Just seven of those were scored by the Rainbow Warriors, but that proved to be enough -- barely -- as UH held on for a 38-34 win.

Speaking of that score, and the winner, allow me to point you to our (my) prediction for this game, from yesterday morning’s “College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 24 Viewer’s Guide":


The win was Hawaii’s first over BYU since 2001, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Cougars. It’s also just the Rainbow Warriors’ second win over the Cougars since 1992.

In finishing 10-5 on the season, Hawaii reached double-digit wins for the first time since 2010. They also played in their first-ever Mountain West Conference championship game.

McDonald would finish this game with 493 yards passing, a career-high. The junior came into the game ninth nationally with 3,642 yards. He also had four touchdown passes on the night, the last of which came with 1:17 left in the game that proved to be the game-winner.

With the bowl game, McDonald now has 33 scoring tosses on the season.