Honolulu — While studying Hawaii's high-flying offense, Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter was reminded of a team closer to home that also forces opponents out of their game plans and into shootouts.
"They encourage you to run-and-shoot with them like the Phoenix Suns," Koetter said. "If you can't run-and-shoot with them and you're a half-court offense, you better not go fast break with them."
The Sun Devils (7-5, 4-5 Pac-10) will try to establish the run, control the ball and eat up clock today when they face the Warriors (10-3, 7-1 Western Athletic Conference) in the Hawaii Bowl. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
"We're bringing out Dean Smith and going four corners," said Koetter, who agreed to coach the game after being fired last month.
Arizona State is ranked second in the Pac-10 and 27th nationally in total defense, and has a major task in slowing down the nation's top-rated passer.
Hawaii's Colt Brennan is on the verge of breaking the 26-year-old NCAA single-season record for touchdown passes. He needs one TD pass to tie the mark of 54 set by Houston's David Klingler in 1990.
With 10 more passing yards, Brennan will become the third quarterback in NCAA history with 5,000 yards and 50 TDs in a season.
Brennan leads the nation in total offense (410.8), passing efficiency (182.8), touchdowns passes (53) and yards passing (4,990). He also has a 72.1 completion percentage and has rushed for 351 yards and five TDs.
The WAC offensive player of the year said he would take a win over the record.
"It would solidify a lot of things for us and give us some credit especially when we have a year like this," he said.
ASU safety Zach Catanese said keeping Brennan from getting the record would mean a low-scoring game that plays into his team's favor.
"I would like that but I'm living in reality here," he said. "That's probably going to happen. Whatever. I'm not going to be terribly upset if we don't hold him."
But Catanese doesn't want to be the defender on ESPN highlights who gets beat on the record-breaking TD pass.
"Hopefully that's not me," he said.
Brennan's top target is speedy Davone Bess, who has 91 catches for 1,155 yards and 14 TDs.
"We just want to get back out there and let the country know we're capable of playing anybody on any level," Bess said.
After starting 1-2 with single-digit losses at Alabama and Boise State, Hawaii won nine straight games and broke into the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1992 before losing its regular-season finale 35-32 to Oregon State and falling out of the poll.
Koetter said the key to slowing down any great pass offense is taking the quarterback out of his rhythm using pressure, changing up the defensive looks or disrupting the receivers.
"Try to take away some of the things they do best, but they do a lot of things well," he said.
Hawaii is the No. 1 offense in the nation, averaging 47.3 points and 549.9 yards a game.
Ryan Torain, who has rushed for 1,119 yards and six TDs, and tight end Zach Miller, who leads Sun Devils with 49 catches and four TDs, should find success against Hawaii's defense, known to give up big plays.