HAWAII VS. NEVADA
RWP - Rainbow Warrior Perspective
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date/Time: Saturday, November 28th at 6:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: Spectrum Sports (PPV in the islands only, so no TV channel for mainlanders)
Streaming: A stream provided by Spectrum Sports. Mainlanders only, the feed is geo-blocked in Hawaii. The Team1Sports App must be downloaded on your phone/tablet/whatever in order to watch.
Radio: ESPN Honolulu
Head-to-Head: Nevada leads the series 14-10. Prior to 2019, Nevada had won 7 of the previous 8 games against Hawaii. One way traffic (I say this about most opponents. The Chow era was rough). Then in 2019, Hawaii inexplicably went to Reno, Nevada, a place the Warrior program has routinely struggled to win, and absolutely obliterated Nevada 54-3 on homecoming night for the Wolf Pack. 54-3! Yes, the COVID-19 season comes with a large asterisk, but it’s astonishing how much can change in one year in college football, as Nevada is a betting favorite for this week’s edition of the matchup.
Three things to look for:
1. Can Hawaii parlay the second half of the Boise State game into a turning point for the offense?
Insert tale of two halves cliché. This past Saturday against Boise State, Hawaii’s offense was once again horrifyingly awful in the first half. Three-and-outs, punts, no touchdowns. The defense played surprisingly well against the Mountain West’s highest-scoring offense, only to concede 19 points as halftime arrived, partially thanks to not having much support from the offense. Fans, media alike were starting to wonder if Graham ball is going awry.
Defense and special teams caved in the second half, but Hawaii didn’t quit and made the necessary adjustments at halftime and the offense rallied off 29 points in the half. The offensive line improved, Calvin Turner balled out, and Chevan Cordeiro looked more comfortable and efficient at moving the sticks. After 6 quarters of negativity, can Hawaii use that second-half turnaround as a launching point for the offensive production many expected entering the season? Nevada’s defense hasn’t conceded more than 21 points since the opener against Wyoming, so this will not be an easy task, but if Hawaii can channel the offensive success they found against Boise State late in this past Saturday’s game, it would go a long way to potentially upsetting undefeated Nevada.
2. Can the defense stop Carson Strong and Romeo Doubs?
The Hank Bachmeier-led Boise State offense was a tough task for the Hawaii defense, but minus star running back George Holani, it’s not quite the task stopping Nevada will be. Sophomore quarterback Carson Strong is sprinting toward Mountain West offensive player of the year status, compiling 1,805 passing yards, 14 touchdown passes, and only 2 interceptions. The fewest amount of passing yards he’s had in a single game this season is 288 (this past weekend against San Diego State). That’s impressive.
Strong has some serious help, though, it must be said. I mentioned above that Strong is a well, uh, strong, candidate to be offensive player of the year in the conference, but wide receiver Romeo Doubs might steal it from him. Doubs has an insane 778 receiving yards on 36 receptions for 9 touchdowns. All this doesn’t even touch on running back Toa Taua, who has 307 rushing yards on 52 carries this season. Can Hawaii avoid conceding the big play to Doubs and pressure Strong? A series of challenges continues for Hawaii, who’s schedule has proven to be more difficult than expected. Strong and company just might be the toughest of them all.
3. Will history repeat itself? Or is Nevada for real?
Nevada Wolf Pack athletics have been defined by strong basketball this past decade, while the football program floated around mediocre status for much of it. There were a few solid Cody Fajardo-led teams earlier in the decade, but no Nevada team has been able to replicate the success of the famed 2010 Nevada Wolf Pack...until this season.
Nevada is receiving votes in both major Top 25 polls, and appears right on the cusp of jumping into the Top 25. A win over Hawaii just might get the job done.
That said, about that 2010 Nevada team...
Largely and rightfully known for defeating possibly Boise State’s best-ever team in dramatic fashion, did not attend a major bowl game for their extremely successful campaign. Why? Well, because the Wolf Pack lost focus for one evening on Oahu against Bryant Moniz, Corey Parades, and the 2010 Hawaii Warriors. Could history repeat itself Saturday? Or is this Nevada team looking at fulfilling an uncharted legacy for Wolf Pack football? Hawaii might need some magic to defeat this team.
I was not far off on my Hawaii-Boise State prediction. Score was wrong, but I nailed the margin of loss perfectly. This week, Hawaii is a home underdog again, albeit not quite the underdog they were against the Broncos.
As I noted in my postgame of UH-BSU, a program that is one year removed from a 10-win season and a division championship (plus the bowl win over BYU has aged well) doesn’t dabble in moral victories, but it was hard to not feel like Hawaii made some progress in the second half of this past Saturday’s game. Hawaii is not as good as Boise State, hasn’t been for a long time, yet still shattered the streak of 20+ point losses to the Broncos. Momentum was established for Hawaii, especially the offense. Can they carry that into this game? To avoid a potential losing season, Hawaii must snap into action this weekend. I think Hawaii will be more consistent over 60 minutes of play, but I think Romeo Doubs will be too much to handle. Give me Hawaii 24, Nevada 34.