FRESNO STATE VS. HAWAII
Location: Halawa, Hawaii (Aloha Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 11th at 6:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: Spectrum Sports PPV on Oahu.
Streaming: WatchStadium app (Again, we've been through this. Check the app, but do not trust Spectrum. Be ready to listen to Bobby Curran)
Radio: ESPN 1420
Head-to-head: Fresno State leads the series 26-22-1. The Bulldogs have won five of the last six games in the series, but lost last year's contest 14-13 in Fresno.
Summary: The Warriors picked up another loss in Las Vegas, conceding the Island Showdown Trophy to the Rebels. Hawaii has now lost six of their last seven games, leaving them needing to sweep their final three games in order to become bowl eligible. Things don't get much easier this week with West Division leading Fresno State coming to town.
Hawaii-Fresno State has produced some great games over the years. The 1999 and 2001 contests were some of the most memorable games played at Aloha Stadium. Nick Rolovich's late strike to Ashley Lelie in 2001 was a picturesque moment in the rivalry. Unlike those games, I don't think 45K+ fans will be attending the 2017 matchup, but there have been some very entertaining games between these schools.
The Bulldogs come to Aloha Stadium the West Division leader, but a recent home loss to UNLV has made their situation a tad stressful. With road games vs. Hawaii and Wyoming, and a home finale vs. Boise State looming, that loss means (assuming San Diego State does not lose again) that the Bulldogs can only lose one of those games and still make the championship game. Needless to say, the Bulldogs won't be short on motivation this week.
As of Sunday evening, Hawaii will be a 10-point home underdog. Definitely not what many expected in the preseason. The Bulldogs are not dominant on offense, sporting an average ranking of 70th overall in total offense. However, they are a balanced unit that protects the football well.
What really makes this team tick is the Fresno defense. Ranked 16th nationally in total defense, they'll pose the same level of challenge that the San Diego State defense did a week ago. While the Bulldog offense is unlikely to post gaudy numbers offensively in this game, Hawaii cannot waste offensive possessions and will need solid field position.
Running back Diocemy Saint Juste has over 1300 total yards this season. He's an all-Mountain West performer, and he’ll do what he can to lift the offense, but Dru Brown will need to pull a 2001 Nick Rolovich if Hawaii wants to pull off the mild upset. That said, again, it’s Hawaii-Fresno State. Things tend to get weird when these two teams play.
“That’s athletic justice”
Prediction: It wasn’t the track meet I expected, but the Rebels did win that gigantic pineapple. This week Hawaii faces a stiff test from a defense that doesn’t give up anything easy. Jeff Tedford’s Bulldogs are the surprise of the Mountain West in 2017, he’s a good bet to win coach of the year. Fresno should win, but it’s November, the month of Mountain West madness. This might be a trap game as the Bulldogs look ahead to showdowns with Wyoming and Boise State. Ah what the hell, I’ll go with Fresno State 20, Hawaii 22.