RICE VS. HAWAII
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii (Aloha Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 8th 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. I know mainlanders had trouble with the feed in 2017, often being pulled due to Oahu-based individuals tampering with it. Hopefully that is not the case anymore. The game is scheduled on the app.
Radio: ESPN 1420
Head-to-Head: The Owls lead the series with a 5-2 record, the most recent result being a 28-14 win for Rice in Houston back in 2014.
Three things to look for:
1. How do the Warriors perform with the underdog tag removed?
Rainbow Warrior fans are dreaming big. Double-digit underdogs, sure loss matchups with Colorado State and Navy to begin the season suggested that Hawaii fans needed to be patient with Nick Rolovich and his 2018 team. Rolo and his gang have given those expectations the one, two across the face. A shock 2-0 start has Hawaii a 17-point favorite vs. Rice, and some people even speculating that the team could be somewhere between 5-2 and 7-0 going into Provo, Utah in October. Disrespected in the preseason, Hawaii has everyone’s attention now. Can the Warriors stay focused and not let their early success get to their heads?
2. Can the Warrior defense keep the Owls in check?
Mike Bloomgren gave up his title as Stanford offensive coordinator to take over a reeling Rice football program. The early returns from Week 0 weren’t great. His Owls needed a last-second field goal to defeat a middling FCS opponent. Week 1 the Owls hosted a hyped Houston Cougars team and played surprisingly well despite the 45-27 score. The offense was tasked with dealing with an all-world terror of a defensive tackle in Ed Oliver, and did well all things considering. I wouldn’t have pegged them for 147 rushing yards and 292 passing yards before that game. Hawaii’s 2-0 start is great, the defense being gashed for 1046 total yards in their first two weeks isn’t. Defending the Rice offense might be a tougher task than people realize.
3. Can they avoid repeating history?
Beware of the buzzkill Rice Owls. The 1999 and 2001 seasons were the best of times for Hawaii football. The 1999 Warriors shocked college football be finishing 9-4 after a winless 1998 season. The 2001 team went 9-3 and destroyed a previously undefeated BYU team in the season finale. Both those seasons had few negatives, but one common occurrence? Two bad losses to Rice in Honolulu. A 19-38 blowout in 1999, and a close 24-27 loss in 2001. With optimism the highest it has been for years, Hawaii should be wary that these Owls have a history of spoiling the party.
I was way off on the score for the Navy game, but I was right about Hawaii winning! There is a vibe going around that after defeating two somewhat respectable opponents that UH should cruise this week. While I do have the Warriors winning, I think Rice will be in the mood to annoy fans. Hawaii pulls away in the 4th quarter, but Rice manages to keep a complete blowout from occurring. Give me Hawaii 45, Rice 34.