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Hawaii @ Army: Three things to look for, Prediction

Hawaii travels roughly 5,000 miles to play at West Point

NCAA Football: Navy at Hawaii Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

HAWAII @ ARMY

Location: West Point, New York (Michie Stadium)

Date/Time: Saturday, September 15th at 6:00 a.m. (Hawaii Time)

Television: CBS Sports Network

Streaming: Requires a television subscription

Radio: ESPN 1420

Head-to-Head: The Warriors lead the series with a 3-0 record, the most recent result in the series being a 49-42 win for Hawaii in Honolulu back in 2013.

Three things to look for:

1. How do the Warriors handle playing halfway around the world?

Yeah, you read that correctly above. This game starts at 6 a.m. Hawaii Time for local fans back in the islands. The Warriors arrived in New York on Wednesday, more or less. They left early for the East Coast in an attempt to adjust to major time difference and shake off the jet lag. Mind you, this is not the first time the Warriors have had to do this. They played at Army in 2010, winning 31-28. The 2010 Bryant Moniz-led Hawaii Warriors were one of the best UH teams ever assembled. Army playing UH close, something few teams did that season, illustrates what kind of effect this long trip can have on the body. Playing roughly 5,000 miles away from home at a weird start time, how will the Warriors cope? How the team feels physically will play a big role in this matchup.

2. Adjusting to life as a winner

Going into Week 3 of the college football season, the Warriors victories over Colorado State and Navy are looking even better. The Rams bounced back to beat Arkansas in Week 2. Wins vs. the SEC are hard to come by, especially for the Mountain West. Navy returned home after a long trip and upset Memphis, who is (was?) expected to be a primary challenger for the AAC championship. These exploits have led to Hawaii receiving votes in both the AP and coaches polls. The respect for Hawaii football has remarkably returned to Manoa in less than a month into the 2018 college football season. Hawaii saw that this past Saturday when the Rice Owls delivered a spirited effort to upset UH. It’s a new world for this group of Warriors, and you can bet Army will be looking to pick up a win vs. a strong opponent after failing to do so vs. Duke in the opener. Can the Warriors handle success and respect?

3. Triple option offense, take two

These are not the Army Black Knights we’ve become accustomed to. After wandering in the wilderness of college football doormat status, head coach Jeff Monken has turned it all around. An 8-5 record in 2016 and a 10-3 finish in 2017, both including wins over Navy (snapping a loooooong Navy streak in 2016), have the Black Knights flying high. To put in perspective, Hawaii has struggled to defeat San Diego State since joining the Mountain West. The Black Knights beat Rocky Long’s gang in the Armed Forces Bowl last December. Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. runs the show, and he’s surprisingly good at throwing the ball for a triple option QB, considering that’s not something they want to attempt frequently. With 8 returning starters on defense, there is an argument to be made that this is the best defense the Warriors will have seen to date. Really, altogether when you account for the quality of opponent and logistics of this game (time, distance, etc.), take two vs. the option will test Hawaii’s mettle.

Prediction:

I predicted a 45-34 win for the Warriors vs. the Rice Owls, and wasn’t far off with the final score being 43-29. This game at West Point, where the Black Knights are favored by 5-points or so, is tough to gauge with all the outside factors for this game. On a neutral field with a reasonable start time, I think Hawaii is clearly the better team. With FCS foe Duquesne next week, followed by a trip to San Jose State, it’s not insane to think Hawaii could be an astounding 6-0 going into the Wyoming/@BYU stretch. Unthinkable in the preseason, but first they need to defeat the Army Black Knights. I’m not feeling very confident about this pick, I think this game is a toss up, but I think the Black Knights do just enough at home. Give me Hawaii 24, Army 27.