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Hawaii @ San Jose State: Three things to look for, Prediction

It’s back to the mainland for the Rainbow Warriors as Hawaii resumes conference play

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

HAWAII @ SAN JOSE STATE

Location: San Jose, California (CEFCU Stadium)

Date/Time: Saturday, September 29th at 1:00 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: The Warriors lead the series 20-19-1, taking the overall series lead last season when Hawaii defeated the Spartans 37-26 in Honolulu. Nick Rolovich is 2-0 vs. the Spartans since taking the UH head coaching job.

Three things to look for:

1. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

Hawaii won its homecoming matchup versus FCS foe Duquesne, but it wasn’t without some troubles along the way. Turnovers and general sloppiness lead to a somewhat surprising score line from the 40-point favorite Warriors as UH won 42-21, at one point trailing 0-14 in the first quarter. Was the team still feeling effects from the long East Coast travel back to Oahu? Maybe they felt the pressure of having to perform in front alumni/fans and the famed 2007 Hawaii Warriors? Or maybe they just overlooked Duquesne? Whatever it is, it would be easy to look at 0-3 San Jose State’s record, which features a loss to Big Sky Conference opponent UC-Davis, and dismiss the Spartans too. While the Spartans just might be dismissal worthy, they did hold the powerhouse offenses of Washington State and Oregon to lower point totals than expected, holding the Cougars to 31 points and the Ducks to 35 points, both on the road.

Hawaii’s schedule is undoubtedly about to get really exciting with Wyoming, BYU, Nevada, and more solid opponents in the months to come. Will the Warriors get caught overlooking the Spartans? Or instead channel the laser-focused mentality they took with them to Ft. Collins?

2. Respect Montel Aaron

San Jose State has 179 rushing yards for the entire three games they’ve played in the 2018 season. Running back Tyler Nevens’ injury is playing a huge role in that stat, but one way or another that is very, very bad. They rank 129th nationally in rushing offense (for those not counting at home, there are only 129 FBS teams). So what is keeping the Spartans offense above water? Nothing really, but while quarterback Josh Love is expected to start for the Spartans, beware of Montel Aaron entering the game. Aaron had a career-best day vs. Hawaii last season, tossing 322 yards and 2 touchdowns in the 26-37 loss for the Spartans.

Yes, yes I know. It’s a really ugly right now for the Spartans, but that’s the only positive note I could come up with for that offense.

3. Don’t get caught looking ahead

As I noted above, Hawaii’s schedule reads as the following prior to their November 10th bye: @San Jose State, Wyoming, @BYU, Nevada, @Fresno State, Utah State. Buckle your seat belt, because it’s almost go time for the Warriors. This 4-1 start has been so much more than fans expected in the preseason. Fans who disappeared during the dark days of the Chow era have returned. Expectations are rising. It would be easy for the Warriors to look at the incoming gauntlet of opponents and assume the Spartans will be an easy win. While the Warriors haven’t lost in San Jose since 2011, it’s proven to be a tough place to play in the past. A focused Warriors team will want to put down one more explanation point victory before entering the bulk of the tougher games. The offense in particular will want to shake off any issues from the last two weeks, because after the SJSU game the Warriors will take on two very good defenses in Wyoming and BYU.

Sure, the team will be reaching for the stars at 5-1 should they win this weekend, but like I said, there aren’t many gimme wins after this week (and by many I mean none at all). It’s a dogfight from here on out. The last thing the Warriors need is to lose focus and drop this game to San Jose State.

Prediction:

Like many fans and media, I was somewhat off in my Duquesne prediction. Hawaii will fly directly to San Jose this week for what will be their shortest road trip of the season. After this game, Hawaii will only have three more road games the rest of the season. I think the Warriors know this game is important for keeping up the positive momentum the program has built in recent weeks. I think the San Jose State defense might make life a little harder for the Warriors offense than most expect, but I just can’t see the abysmal Spartan offense giving UH much trouble. Hawaii is a 13-point favorite and I’m calling for them to cover. Give me Hawaii 34, San Jose State 17.