HONOLULU — Hawaii is exactly where it wants to be — heading to Boise State with the conference title on the line and making plans to stay home for the holidays.
Bryant Moniz threw for three touchdowns, ran for another score and streaking Hawaii won its sixth straight and became bowl eligible by defeating Idaho 45-10 on Saturday night.
Following the game, the Warriors (7-2, 5-0 Western Athletic Conference) accepted an invitation to the hometown Hawaii Bowl and set their sights on next week's showdown at No. 2 Boise State that could determine the WAC champion.
"Reflecting on the season so far, I would say it's magical," Hawaii safety Mana Silva said. "But we still got to do some magic at Boise State. We've got to focus and continue to improve."
Hawaii is riding high and eager to showcase its talents, which have largely gone unnoticed so far.
"Now it's that week to get another victory and really put our name out there and let people know what Hawaii football is about," Moniz said.
The junior, who leads the nation in passing and total offense, became the fifth quarterback in school history to break 3,000 yards passing in a season. He was 27 of 38 for 326 yards with one interception. He also rushed seven times for 43 yards, including a 3-yard TD run in the fourth quarter before being replaced by backups.
Greg Salas caught 11 passes for 168 yards for the Warriors, who have outscored opponents 273-93 in the winning streak. Eight of Salas' receptions came in the second half.
"We're loving it right now, we're on cloud nine. But we know we have a handful next week," Salas said.
With its top-ranked pass offense humming along, Hawaii's aggressive defense took control and broke the game open by forcing three straight turnovers, including two interceptions, that led to 21 points in the first half.
"They've got a good team all the way around. They played very well," Idaho coach Robb Akey said.
Richard Torres' 57-yard fumble return for a touchdown put Hawaii up 24-3. The Vandals' two previous drives ended with Corey Paredes and Silva picking off Idaho's Nathan Enderle.
Paredes' interception led to a 4-yard TD pass from Moniz to Kealoha Pilares on fourth down.
Hawaii never looked back after taking the lead, 10-3, on Moniz's 10-yard TD strike to Royce Pollard following Silva's interception.
"I feel that we're invincible, pretty much," Silva said. "We're going to stop whoever we need to stop."
Alex Green rushed 10 times for 74 yards. His 1-yard TD run gave Hawaii a 31-3 lead just before the half, capping a five-play, 80-yard drive that took just 51 seconds.
The Vandals (4-4, 1-2) couldn't get anything going and were unable to slow down Hawaii. They were without standout linebacker and Maui native Jojo Dickson, who suffered a broken ankle last week.
Enderle looked sharp early, but unraveled with the interceptions. He was 23 of 41 for 207 yards.
"Everybody knew they were a good team coming in, and that quarterback is the real deal, so I was really proud of the way our defense held them down," Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said.
Backup Brian Reader threw a late touchdown, an 18-yarder to Taylor Elmo for Idaho's lone touchdown. Elmo had five catches for 49 yards.Comment on this story
Hawaii, which has won eight straight in WAC play, will be heading to its seventh bowl in nine years after missing the postseason last year.
"I felt so bad that we missed it by one game last year," McMackin said. "Now winning this game opens up a whole new set of goals and now we can go for the WAC championship."
But its attention will be on next week's game at Boise State, which will be the final WAC matchup between the schools as the Broncos are leaving for the Mountain West Conference next year. Hawaii and Boise State are the only WAC schools without a conference loss this season.
"Obviously Boise is a great team. We can't overlook that, but we're not worried because every team is beatable on any given Saturday," Green said.