UTAH STATE VS. HAWAII
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii (Aloha Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 3rd at 6:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: Spectrum Sports (via PPV only available in the islands)
Streaming: For mainlanders, the only viewing option is the Stadium app. This app is only available via smartphone or tablet.
Radio: ESPN 1420
Head-to-Head: Utah State leads the series 9-6, having won the last four contests between the two programs. Hawaii’s last win vs. the Aggies came in 2010. Utah State won the 2017 game between the two in a 38-0 rout in Logan.
Three things to look for:
1. Is there any good argument for Hawaii’s defense playing well this week?
The last few weeks have been pretty brutal for the Warrior defense. Two weeks ago, Hawaii conceded 49 points to Brigham Young in Provo. Sure, the optimist might suggest that maybe the Cougar offense is just much better under freshman quarterback Zach Wilson. BYU had a bye the following week, and this past Saturday lost 6-7 at home. You read that correctly. After bombing UH for 49 points, BYU failed to score a touchdown at home against Northern Illinois. Last week, Hawaii conceded 40 points to Nevada. Then, of course, the team coughed up 50 merciful points to Fresno State on the road. It could have been so much more if head coach Jeff Tedford had been in a foul mood. Needless to say, Hawaii is giving up points in bunches vs. the stronger competition on the schedule.
Next up? The Utah State Aggies, who rank 3rd nationally in scoring offense, averaging an insane 49.4 points per game. The Aggies led New Mexico 52-5 at halftime this past Saturday, trying painfully hard to not run up the score on the hapless Lobos. Hawaii ranks 104th nationally in total defense. Combine these facts, and it sure looks like Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald and the offense will need to put up a tremendous performance just for this game to be competitive.
2. Does Hawaii have anything left in the tank?
The Week 0 football game allows Hawaii football to play a 13th football game, an extra home game, each season without compromising their bye week. That sounds great and all, but the placement of said bye week is totally up to the Mountain West and their scheduling process. This season, the bye week comes in the second week of November for Hawaii. The Warriors will have played 11 consecutive football games before their much-needed bye week arrives. On the plus side, they’ll play home games before and after the bye week, so the team will be on Oahu for a solid three weeks, but the point remains: these Warriors have to be completely gassed. Most teams have played 8 games to this point. No Week 0 contest, already had a bye week of rest. Hawaii, unfortunately, will have to take on a nationally-ranked Utah State team before their break arrives. Does this team have enough energy to put up a real fight with Utah State?
3. Can Cole McDonald put on the cape and save Hawaii?
Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald has 2832 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes, 4 interceptions, and 322 rushing yards this season as a sophomore. That, folks, is ridiculous. Despite his monster season to this point, the Warriors quarterback and his crew of wide receivers seem to be the only Warriors still playing at a high level. Let’s be honest: Utah State is probably going to score a ton of points this weekend. Every team Utah State has played against that isn’t named Wyoming has been victimized by Jordan Love and the Aggies. Brigham Young, whom Hawaii lost 23-49 too, was torn apart by Utah State in Provo. All the numbers suggest the Aggies will probably score 40+ points in Aloha Stadium. That means, if Hawaii has aspirations of shocking the ranked Aggies, McDonald and the offense will need to put together their best performance of the season. The Aggies rank 39th in total defense too, so it’s not like they’ll be a pushover in that regard.
It feels unfair to ask anything more of McDonald this season, he’s been fantastic. That said, it’s the truth: McDonald and his band of receivers will need to be at their best if Hawaii wants to win Saturday.
I shortchanged both Hawaii and Fresno State in the points category, but I was mostly right about how that game would transpire. This is an ugly skid UH is on right now. Three straight losses, a team that was 6-1 three weeks ago is starting to have fans wonder if a Hawaii Bowl berth is in jeopardy. With a bye week prior to the UNLV home game, I think the Warriors will manage to accomplish a bowl berth, but after BYU, Nevada, and Fresno thumped the Warriors, one would think Rolovich and his Warriors will want to show they’re not a mediocre, middle-of-the-road team in the Mountain West. They’ll need to beat either Utah State or San Diego State to do that. I just can’t see it this week. Any given Saturday, but I think this game gets out of hand. Utah State 47, Hawaii 24.