Sun Devils Sent Bowling in Hawai'i

It may rank as the lowest tier Pac-10 bowl game, but ASU players were hardly shedding a tear when they learned they will spend a week in Honolulu preparing for the 2006 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl on Christmas Eve. ESPN will televise the game nationally, with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m. Arizona time.

Following an invitation from the bowl committee, the Arizona State University football team accepted the bid and will face the University of Hawai'i Warriors (10-2). The game will take place on the Warriors' home field (and site of the NFL Pro Bowl) at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

"I'm looking forward to it," said center Mike Pollak. "What a way to spend your Christmas – in Hawai'i. It doesn't get much better than that. We would like to go to a higher tier bowl, but given the circumstances we gladly accept this invitation and look forward to representing our school."

Defensive tackle Jordan Hill claimed that offensive lineman Brandon Rodd gives him a taste of Hawai'i when he sometimes brings over authentic dishes. Now, he'll get to experience this exotic island on a more personal level. On the field, Hill and the defense will match-up with the nation's best overall offense. "I heard how well their offense has been doing (scored 288 points in the last five games)," he noted, "in two of their last four games they scored 60 points. I don't know anyone we played that would be similar. It's gonna be a lot of fun, especially how well our defense has played this year. The challenge is there for us."

Hill also looks forward to spend more time together with the coaching staff, which was dismissed on Sunday, and one that will leave ASU only after the bowl game. "It's hard thing for all of us to swallow," he said of dealing with the staff's firing. "All of us have so much respect for Coach Koetter. All of us believe in him and the things he brings to the table."

Aside from the departing seniors, the bowl game could also mark the last time junior tight end Zach Miller will don the maroon and gold, if he decides to enter the NFL draft. He has until Jan. 15th to declare his intentions, and with the bowl game played roughly three weeks before that deadline, he's now likely to take even more time to make his intentions known. "I'm sure it will make the process longer," he said. "Also because of the fact that I'm gonna meet the new coaches, wait to hear back (from the NFL on his prospect ranking in the draft). I'll probably end up taking most of that time (until the deadline)."

As a junior, Miller isn't eligible to participate in games such as the Senior Bowl, where NFL front offices get a closer look at some of the draft participants. Thus, the Hawai'i Bowl could be his last chance before the draft to showcase his abilities in a football game. "If that's the case," he said smiling, "I have to make sure I look good."

This is will be the 23rd Bowl game appearance for the Sun Devils, and the fourth in the past five seasons. Arizona State holds a 12-9-1 all-time record in Bowl games, including two straight victories. The Hawai'i Bowl will mark the third straight postseason appearance for ASU as the Devils will attempt to win their third consecutive Bowl after victories over Purdue in the 2004 Sun Bowl and Rutgers in the 2005 Insight Bowl. The match-up with Hawai'i will be the seventh all-time meeting between these two teams, and the first since 1979. ASU holds a 5-1 all-time edge in the series.

Ticket information for the 2006 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl will be released once it becomes available.

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