Hawaii's bid at perfection ended with a thud in the Sugar Bowl, where the black-clad Bulldogs took out their frustration at getting passed over for a shot at the BCS championship with a 41-10 rout of Colt Brennan and the overmatched Warriors on Tuesday night.
Getting a headstart on next season on the first day of the new year, No. 4 Georgia (11-2) established itself as a leading contender in 2008 with a total whippin' of the 10th-ranked Warriors (12-1), who cracked the BCS with an unbeaten run through the Western Athletic Conference.
They are perfect no more. This night was nothing but a four-hour-plus rendition of "Glory, Glory To Ol' Georgia."
Knowshon Moreno ran for a pair of touchdowns in the opening quarter and the Bulldogs' defense made life miserable for Brennan, a Heisman Trophy finalist and catalyst for the nation's highest-scoring team. He was sacked eight times, threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles, one of them recovered for a Georgia touchdown.
After getting slammed to the Superdome turf one last time by Geno Atkins, Brennan staggered to the sideline, his night mercifully done. The junior had the worst showing of his career in a game played to the finish, going 22-of-38 for just 169 yards - less than half of his 348-yard average this season.
The Bulldogs led 24-3 by halftime and quickly snuffed out any chance that Brennan might lead an improbable comeback, as he did in bringing Hawaii back from a 21-point deficit in their regular-season finale against Washington.
On Hawaii's first possession after the break, Brennan was sacked by Roderick Battle, then picked off by Asher Allen. The Warriors held, getting an interception of their own on a tipped ball, but that merely set up Brennan for more misery.
Marcus Howard, who spent as much time in the Hawaii backfield as the guys wearing white, sped by tackle Keoni Steinhoff like he wasn't even there and crashed into Brennan. The ball rolled loose in the end zone and Howard recovered, giving him as many touchdowns as the vaunted run-and-shoot offense that was averaging 46.2 points a game.
As it was, Georgia set a school record with the highest-scoring bowl game of its long, proud history, eclipsing a 40-26 win over TCU in the 1942 Orange Bowl.
Howard, who had to wait until his senior year to start, sure went out with a bang in this final college game: three sacks, two forced fumbles and a tipped ball that was intercepted by teammate Dannell Ellerbe. Allen picked off two Hawaii throws. Freshman Rennie Curran chipped in with two sacks.
After Ellerbe's pick, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez leaped into his player's arms along the sideline, giddy at the way his unit shut down a team that had eight 40-point games this season.
Georgia lobbied for a spot in the title game after the top two teams in the BCS rankings lost on the final day of the regular season. But the Bulldogs, who didn't even make the SEC championship game, failed to move up and had to settle for their third Sugar Bowl appearance in five years.
With their title hopes dashed, coach Mark Richt urged his players to get a good start on 2008, knowing an impressive win over the Warriors would surely set up the Dawgs for a top-five ranking at the start of next season - and better positioning for a run at No. 1.
Consider it done.
Hawaii hoped to follow the lead set by WAC rival Boise State, which capped last year's perfect season with a stunning overtime win against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. In the locker room before the game, coach June Jones urged his team to "play with confidence, like you belong."
Brennan ran up against a swarming Georgia defense that was in no mood to give the little guys another day in the sun. In the first half alone, he was sacked five times and turned it over twice, losing a fumble and throwing an interception.
Hawaii finally got to the end zone with 101/2 minutes to go and backup quarterback Tyler Graunke running the offense. He tossed a meaningless 16-yard TD pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen while Brennan watched from the sideline.
In all fairness to the Hawaii star, this wasn't really a fair fight.
Georgia was dominant in the trenches, on both sides of the line. Brennan rarely had time to throw, while Moreno and Thomas Brown, the Bulldogs' 1-2 backfield punch, found plenty of room to do their thing, especially in the tone-setting first half.
Moreno, a dynamic redshirt freshman whose emergence at midseason ignited the Georgia offense, didn't start and carried the ball just nine times because of a gimpy ankle. He sure made the most of his chances, though.
On his team's first possession, Moreno capped a 61-yard drive by taking off around left end, getting a crushing block from fullback Brannan Southerland and finding nothing but open space. He wasn't hit until get got to the end zone, tumbling in for a 17-yard touchdown, then popping right back up to blow a kiss to the Georgia fans.
Moreno made it 14-3 in the final minute of the first quarter This time, he burst through a huge hole up the middle and went in standing for an 11-yard touchdown.
Brandon Coutu knocked through a 52-yard field goal and Matthew Stafford blew it open by flipping an 11-yard scoring pass to Sean Bailey in the corner of the end zone midway through the second quarter.
Georgia ditched its traditional red jerseys in favor of black for the second time this season. But, unlike the emotional boost the Bulldogs seemed to get in a win over Auburn, it didn't matter what color they were wearing for this one.
After Brown leaped into the end zone for a 1-yard TD late in the third quarter, the Bulldog faithful serenaded Hawaii with chants of "Overrrated! Overrated!"
No argument there.