HONOLULU --- Moments after rallying Hawaii from 14 points down in the final four minutes to beat San Jose State in overtime, Colt Brennan stood before his mud-covered teammates in the middle of Spartans Stadium and delivered a passionate message.
"We kept saying 'believe,' " Brennan hollered. "Believe the rest of the year, and we will go undefeated. This is what it's all about. Every one of you guys, I love you."
Brennan's bold prediction, captured by television cameras, was made in mid-October. Two months later, having led the Warriors to a perfect regular season, Brennan is a Heisman Trophy finalist.
"I was just saying what I felt," he said in an interview this week. "It just came out, and sure enough we believed the rest of the season, and here we are."
Brennan was chosen as a Heisman Trophy finalist Wednesday, along with Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden and Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel.
No. 10 Hawaii (12-0) had the finest season in school history. The Warriors finished the regular season as the nation's only unbeaten team, won their first outright Western Athletic Conference championship and earned a Sugar Bowl bid to face No. 4 Georgia.
Brennan has made believers of his teammates and an entire state. They started believing when he announced he would return for this, his senior season, giving up a shot at millions of dollars in the NFL, risking injury and facing the potential of falling short of the staggering statistics he put up in 2006.
He returned, in part, to pay back to a school and a coach that gave him a second chance -- and he has no regrets about the decision.
"Hawaii has inspired me to do a lot of great things," he said.
Warriors coach June Jones calls Brennan the "best passer in college history."
There's no question, Brennan is one of the most prolific quarterbacks ever. He owns or shares 29 NCAA records, including the career touchdown mark of 131.
Brennan doesn't take for granted the joy he gets from being able to play.
He nearly lost that chance in 2004 while at the University of Colorado. A female student accused him of entering her dorm room. Brennan pleaded not guilty, but was jailed for seven days after being convicted of burglary and criminal trespass for not leaving the dorm promptly. A sexual assault charge was dismissed.
The experience made him humble.
"Three years ago I was saying, 'How could this happen to me, God. What did I ever do to deserve this?' " he said. "Now I'm saying the same thing, but in a different context."
AND THE WINNER IS ...
WHAT: 73rd Heisman Trophy Presentation
WHERE: Nokia Theater, New York
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPN)
FINALISTS: Arkansas running back Darren McFadden
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow
Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan
Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel