This was the first litmus test. Hawaii arrived in Provo with a 6-1 overall record and plenty of confidence. The strength of schedule numbers, however, suggested Hawaii has had it somewhat easy to this point in the season. Brigham Young was coming off of a massive loss to Utah State, a loss that brought change at the quarterback position. That proved to be bad news on Saturday night as true freshman quarterback Zach Wilson took over for Tanner Mangum and managed the game well as the BYU running game ran over the Warriors in a surprise blowout loss for Hawaii.
Hawaii started strong, moving the football into BYU territory on their first drive, but the drive was killed on 4th-and-short after a false start forced them to punt. The Cougars took over from their own 13 yard line and marched down easily for a score and, well, it was pretty much already over at that point. Hawaii would punt again, BYU would score again. Hawaii would punt a third time, but fortunately intercepted Zach Wilson to keep them in the game. Quarterback Cole McDonald, who finished with 248 passing yards, two touchdown passes and one interception, could not engineer enough offense in the first half for the Warriors to stay alive. Two more Cougar touchdowns in the second quarter would have Hawaii down 3-28 at the break.
Brigham Young would go three-and-out coming out of the locker room, and Hawaii took advantage of a short field and scored on a 1-yard Dayton Furuta touchdown. Hawaii then continued to build momentum by forcing a three-and-out again, but a fumble on the punt return by punt returner Justice Augafa gave BYU the ball with a great field position. The Cougars scored again and this game was officially getting out of the hand.
Hawaii would respond, Cole McDonald hitting Dayton Furuta with the old shovel pass for a 20-yard touchdown. However, the Hawaii defense could not stop the Cougar offense as the teams traded touchdown drives until the conclusion of the 4th quarter. The Warriors offense came alive too late and the defense didn’t arrived at all. Warriors would fall 23-49 and fall to 6-2 (3-0). This was Hawaii’s final out-of-conference opponent of the season.
Was Hawaii found out last night? Not as good as their 6-1 record indicated? Maybe, maybe not. They will, however, have the chance to redeem themselves. Upcoming opponent Nevada played Fresno State and Boise State well the last two weeks. We already know how good Fresno State, Utah State, and San Diego State are. UNLV might be the only team that qualifies as a so-called “easier” opponent.
The Rainbow Warriors are a good football team. How good will be determined in the coming weeks, and they’ll certainly hope the BYU game wasn’t a sign of things to come.
UP NEXT: Nevada at Aloha Stadium. Wolf Pack lost 27-31 to Boise State in an inspired effort from hobbled quarterback Ty Gangi.