NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Georgia defensive end Marcus Howard watched and listened to all the hype about Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan and the Warriors’ prolific offense.

When the Sugar Bowl ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Howard sauntered off the field – helmet in one hand, Sugar Bowl most valuable player trophy in the other – with a reminder for football fans everywhere.

“It just shows it’s not always about offense,” Howard said, after Georgia dominated Hawaii 41-10 in the Superdome. “Defense wins ballgames and that’s what happened tonight.”

Georgia’s decision to wear a more intimidating black jersey instead of its traditional red seemed most appropriate when the Bulldogs’ defense was on the field. They swarmed to the ball like merciless marauders, turning Hawaii’s once joyous first bid to the Sugar Bowl into a nightmare.

“It’s always good to shut a top-notch quarterback down,” Georgia linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. “We just wanted to come out and play well and show them we’re just as good as they are.”

Just as good? How about in a different league?

When taken in the context of its 12-0 regular season, the numbers Hawaii managed to put up against Georgia were downright dismal.

Coming into their Bowl Championship Series debut, Hawaii had averaged 529.2 yards and 45 points per game. Against Southeastern Conference powerhouse Georgia, Hawaii finished with 306 total yards and turned the ball over six times.

on four interceptions (three by Brennan) and two fumbles. It was the first time Brennan had been held without a TD pass at Hawaii when he played more than a few plays.

For most of the game, it seemed the only completions Georgia permitted were short passes underneath in long-yardage situations. Then, it was up to Hawaii’s receivers to make substantial gains after the catch. They couldn’t.

As Georgia’s defenders hopped up in triumph from one ferocious tackle after another, the Georgia band immersed the Louisiana Superdome in a fitting tune: “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones.

“We looked at the games we played really well this year, and it was when we played faster and more physical than our opponents,” Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. “We had to be able to run to the ball and get there as fast as we can and try and punish the ball carrier and see how long they’ll play with us playing fast and hard and physical.”

Physical is right. Ellerbe appeared to knock Warriors receiver Jason Rivers out cold on a tackle in the second quarter. Rivers eventually sat up and even got back into the game a few series later. But the only thing Rivers won in this game was respect for his ability to take a pounding.

Brennan, meanwhile, was sacked more times in the first half (five) than in any game this season. Howard jarred the ball from Brennan’s grasp twice in the first three quarters, the second hit leaving Brennan flat on his back. Meanwhile, Howard was falling on the loose ball in the end zone for the fourth touchdown in the romp.

“Full speed, I had a clear shot at him,” Howard said. “I beat the tackle inside and that’s probably my favorite sack I ever had.”

Georgia’s eighth sack literally brought Brennan to his knees, where he remained for about 10 seconds, his head bowed against the turf, before trainers helped him up and led him off the field with just over 13 minutes remaining in the game.

“Before the game started I was saying he was going to be the best quarterback we faced, but we hit him pretty bad,” Howard said. “I don’t think he had a chance to show what type of quarterback he was.”

The Dawgs’ defensive backs had a pretty good day, too.

Prince Miller intercepted a pass in the first half. Asher Allen, Ellerbe and Thomas Flowers each picked one off in the second.

Brennan was replaced by Tyler Graunke, who threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen.

Eight sacks were the most the Bulldogs had ever racked up in a bowl, and Brennan could only wish those were the only plays on which he took a heavy hit.

The Bulldogs were clearly gunning for him. Brennan was leveled after a last-second option pitch and on several other throws that he narrowly released before his protection collapsed.

“Coach Martinez said, ‘Hit Colt Brennan,”‘ Howard said. “He made it a big priority. He said, ‘If he runs the option, don’t peel off, just hit him. If he passes the ball, as long as it’s legal, hit him.’ That’s what we did.”

AP-ES-01-02-08 0539EST

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