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Hawaii looks to end WAC run with title

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Hawaii is hoping to follow Boise State's lead: win the Western Athletic Conference then head to the Mountain West.

The Warriors and their high-powered passing offense are favored to win the WAC this season and finish ahead of Fresno State and Nevada, two more teams heading to the MWC in 2012 to join Boise State.

The Warriors shared the title with Nevada and Boise State last year, as each finished 7-1 in conference play. With 11 starters returning, including two on special teams, the Warriors hope they can edge out their slightly shuffled competition.

Quarterback Bryant Moniz led the nation in passing and total offense last year, and was the 11th player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to have more than 5,000 yards passing in one season. He also led the country in touchdown passes.

''There's a great attitude out here - there's great leadership,'' Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said.

HAWAII - Key players: QB Bryant Moniz, WR Royce Pollard, LB Corey Paredes. Returning starters: 3 offense, 6 defense.

Notes: Hawaii led the country in passing last year at 394.3 yards per game. Going into its final year with the WAC, Hawaii has been with the conference longer than any other team at 33 years.

FRESNO STATE - Key players: RB Robbie Rouse, LB Travis Brown, DT Logan Harrell. Returning starters: 4 offense, 5 defense

Notes: Rouse had 1,129 yards and eight touchdowns last season. ... The Bulldogs usually load up on tough nonconference games but this might be a bit much, with games against Nebraska, California, Ole Miss and Boise State.

NEVADA - Key Players: WR Rishard Matthews, LB James-Michael Johnson, OL Chris Barker. Returning starters: 6 offense, 7 defense.

Notes: Matthews was second-team all WAC last season, with 879 yards receiving and five touchdowns. ... Nevada had nine all-conference players last year, and four remain with the team this year.

LOUISIANA TECH - RB Lennon Creer, WR Taulib Ikharo DL Matt Broha. Key players: Returning starters: 6 offense, 7 defense.

Notes: Ikharo had 530 yards receiving and four touchdowns last season. ... Creer was 24th in the country last year with 98.4 yards rushing per game. He had five games with at least 100 yards.

UTAH STATE - Key players: C Tyler Larsen, RB Robert Turbin, WR Kerwynn Williams. Returning starters: 9 offense, 6 defense.

Notes: Utah State is returning six players who missed most of last season with injuries. ... Larsen is on the watch list for the 2011 Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's best center.

IDAHO - Key players: QB Brian Reader, OT Tyrone Novikoff, LB Tre'Shawn Robinson. Returning starters: 5 offense, 8 defense.

Notes: Reader is moving from playing backup in 10 of 13 games last year to being a starter this year, replacing four-year starter Nathan Enderle. ... The Vandals play two homes games (against Bowling Green and North Dakota) to open the season. That's only happened six times since 1930 for Idaho.

SAN JOSE STATE - Key players: WR Noel Grigsby, S Duke Ihenacho, LB Keith Smith. Returning starters: 6 offense, 12 defense.

Notes: The Spartans are returning all of their starters on defense, plus five of their top six receivers. ... Grigsby had 56 receptions and averaged 14.7 yards per catch - second among Football Bowl Subdivision freshmen.

NEW MEXICO STATE - Key players: WR Taveon Rogers, OT Aundre McGaskey, Pierre Fils. Returning starters: 9 offense, 8 defense.

Notes: Coach DeWayne Walker has five wins in two full seasons with the Aggies. ... Rogers was a standout last year on special teams with 1,410 yards on 52 returns.

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Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .

Tagged: Boise State, New Mexico State, Idaho, Utah State, Hawaii, Fresno State, San Jose State, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, Bryant Moniz, Matt Broha

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