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Hawaii @ Brigham Young: Three things to look for, Prediction

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Hawaii will play in LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, where they have never won a game

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Hawaii Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

HAWAII @ BRIGHAM YOUNG

Location: Provo, Utah (LaVell Edwards Stadium)

Date/Time: Saturday, October 13th at 4:15 p.m. (Hawaii Time)

Television: ESPN2

Streaming: WatchESPN app? I think?

Radio: ESPN 1420

Head-to-Head: The Cougars lead the overall series, which started in 1930, 22-8. The Cougars have won 10 of the last 11 contests. BYU won the most recent game between the two programs, 30-20 last season in Honolulu.

Three things to look for:

1. The dreadlocked-elephant in the room: will Cole McDonald play?

The rumblings started a few hours before the game on social media, and even earlier on fan message boards: Cole McDonald would miss the Wyoming game. Most dismissed these rumors because, well, what? Cole was just fine last week, or it appeared so anyway. Why would he be out? Confusion persisted when Nick Rolovich sent out a fake, dread-less McDonald imposter during pregame. The secret was out near game time that McDonald was in fact out with an undisclosed injury. True freshman quarterback Chevan Cordeiro started in his place. We won’t get into specifics on what McDonald’s injury is, but he was seen on the sideline moving around just fine. As of this week, McDonald’s status is still a mystery. Needless to say, while Cordeiro did serve up a game-winning touchdown pass vs. Wyoming, the level of confidence Hawaii will take into Provo will vary based on which quarterback starts. The Brigham Young Cougars struggled mightily vs Utah State last week, losing 45-20 in Provo. The Warriors offense, when McDonald is at the helm, has the ability to give BYU problems. Combine that with BYU’s well-documented struggles on offense, and it feels like Hawaii would have as good a chance to win in Provo as they’ve ever had...if McDonald plays.

UPDATE: McDonald has practiced this week. He appears to be back, although he and the staff remain coy on what his supposed injury was. McDonald looks set to play, but Rolo is a master of the psyche out, so we’ll continue to have a healthy dose of skepticism.

2. So...what now for BYU?

While Hawaii was keeping secrets this past weekend, it’s been no secret that BYU is struggling right now. After shocking #6 Wisconsin in Madison, seemingly destroying the negative sentiment surrounding the program from the 2017 season, it all returned the last two weeks after Washington hammered the Cougars in Seattle, and then Utah State took it up a notch by pounding BYU in Provo for the Old Wagon Wheel. The 2017 questions have returned: is Sitake the right coach for the program? Should Tanner Mangum be starting? What happened in Provo on Friday night can break a season. This is just my observation, but BYU’s defenders appeared to be borderline quitting on plays vs. the Aggies. So which BYU does Hawaii get this weekend? The Cougars that play nasty defense, clock-controlled and smart football? Could true freshman quarterback Zach Wilson be given the starting job after Tanner Mangum struggled again? He gives the offense a new element with his ability to run and improvise. Or will BYU mail it in and play with a subdued effort? BYU’s level of desire, and personnel choices, will go a long way to determining how this game pans out.

3. The storm has arrived. How does Hawaii stack up against tougher opposition?

According to Bill Connelly’s latest S&P rankings list, the teams Hawaii has already played rank like this.

115. Colorado State - Win

109. Navy - Win

126. Rice - Win

44. Army - Loss

N/A. Duquesne - Win

119. San Jose State - Win

103. Wyoming - Win

Here are the rankings for the remainder of the schedule.

69. BYU (nice)

101. Nevada

14. Fresno State

20. Utah State

106. UNLV

68. San Diego State

Needless to say, the training wheels are coming for the Hawaii Warriors football team. This 6-1 (3-0) start has the fan base buzzing and the team confident, but it’s about to be on like Donkey Kong for this team. They rank 128th in strength of schedule. That’s pretty bad considering there are only 130 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Nevada and UNLV at home just about cement Hawaii’s bowl status, but the remaining games will see Hawaii as a stiff underdog. It’s been all fun and games to this point, but buckle up, folks. We’re about to find out what the 2018 Hawaii Warriors are really made of. This season is already special, having already doubled the win total many experts/media projected for the team. In the coming weeks we’ll begin to find out: is Hawaii 7-8 wins good? Or double-digit wins good? It starts in Provo.

Prediction:

My name is Jeremy, and I am going to cheat. Yeah, I’ll admit, I had no idea that Cole McDonald would miss the Wyoming game, but my prediction overall wasn’t too far off. This week, I’m gonna cop out and give you two different predictions:

Hawaii @ BYU: Cole McDonald plays. The Warriors star quarterback returns from his mystery injury that forced him out vs. Wyoming and gives the offense a lift. BYU’s defense presents a challenge similar to Wyoming from a talent perspective, but will the Cougars be running around with their hair on fire? Or will they play uninspired like they did last week? If McDonald plays, UH does just enough to do something fans wondered if they would ever see: a Rainbow Warriors win in Provo: Hawaii 24, BYU 21.

Hawaii @ BYU: Chevan Cordeiro starts. Let’s get this out of the way: Cordeiro is not a bad player. In fact, he has the potential to be quite good. That said, he appeared overwhelmed by the Wyoming defense. Plenty of handoffs to Dayton Furuta saved the day, but Cordeiro struggled to make it passed his first few reads. Even with BYU’s recent struggles, I think this stage/defense might be too much for the Saint Louis School product. In this McDonald-less scenario, give me Hawaii 10, BYU 24.