HAWAII @ COLORADO ST.
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii (Clarence T.C. Ching Complex)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 22nd at 10:00 a.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: Spectrum Sports PPV
Streaming: The Team1Sports app is the route for mainlanders.
Radio: ESPN Honolulu
Head-to-Head: The Colorado State Rams lead the series 15-11, but Hawaii has won the two most recent games. Last year’s game at Clarence T.C. Ching Complex ended with Hawaii winning 50-45. Crazy game. Quarterback Todd Centeio is now balling out at James Madison. Despite being conference mates since 2012, these two programs have only faced each other six times since then.
Three things to look for:
1. Familiar faces in Ft. Collins
Somewhere out there in the universe, there is an alternate reality where Hawaii head coach Timmy Chang might’ve been on the other sideline for Saturday’s game.
Last season, Nevada head coach Jay Norvell put together one of the better Group of 5 teams. Truth be told, the 2022 Nevada Wolf Pack underwhelmed results wise considering the preseason New Year’s Six hype. Still, a team that featured stars like Carson Strong, Romeo Doubs, Cole Turner, Daiyan Henley, Dom Peterson among others was a bright spot for the conference. Norvell’s name was being floated for Power 5 jobs, but ultimately, he shocked the conference by leaving Nevada for Colorado State.
Why? Resources, money. That’s the answer, Colorado State is at least trying to fund a strong Group of 5 football program. Then Nevada wide receivers coach Timmy Chang followed Norvell to Ft. Collins, but never coached a down thanks to a phone call from Hawaii athletic director Dave Matlin. Timmy has June Jones run-and-shoot ties, but Norvell is the man that taught him how to be a coach. Saturday will feature an intriguing master vs. apprentice dynamic. Can Chang get the best of his mentor?
2. Will Hawaii’s defense shine again?
Back-to-back weeks, Hawaii’s much-maligned defense has held opposition to well under their usual rushing output. Both San Diego State and Nevada failed to reach 100 rushing yards. Since the bye, Hawaii’s defense is holding opposition to 15 ppg. Granted, the Aztecs and Wolf Pack are not exactly lighting up the scoreboards this season, but it’s still an impressive turnaround for the Hawaii defense.
This week presents another chance to impress. Colorado State’s offense ranks 129th in total offense out of 131 teams. The Rams have found hope in recent games with running back Avery Morrow, who averages 4.8 yards per carry. He’s a big, bruising running back.
Starting quarterback Clay Millen has been hurt, Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi initially replaced him. Walk-on quarterback Giles Pooler started this past weekend against Utah State. We’ll see if Norvell gives any indication who will play against Hawaii.
The Warriors will need to tackle well against Morrow, but on paper at least this is another chance to impress.
3. Can Schager and the offense be the difference?
Hawaii quarterback Brayden Schager and the group of wide receivers that returned from injury, Zion Bowens, Koali Nishigaya, and Chuuky Hines joined the other emerging wide receivers to balance the offense and take pressure off Dedrick Parson and the running game. That’s the primary development of the recent games. We saw glimpses against San Diego State, and the payoff 31-point performance against Nevada.
Colorado State ranks 91st in total defense, but most of that carnage is the result of the first month of the season. The defense has improved in recent weeks against Nevada and Utah State. Despite the exodus of transfers in recent weeks, this defense features a lot of seniors, so do not expect a cake walk for the Rainbow Warrior offense. The Rams defensive line in particular has shown the ability to disrupt up front.
Even so, the Rams did concede 252 rushing yards to Utah State. Dedrick Parson could feast again this week.
Hawaii was a 23.5-point underdog against San Diego State, lost by 2. They were 6-point home underdogs against Nevada, won by 15. This week? Vegas is still not believing in this post-bye turnaround for the Warriors, who will be 6-point underdogs again against Colorado State.
The current forecast shows a high of 77 for Saturday’s game, so no fear of the mountain range cold for Hawaii. I think this game comes down to whether or not Hawaii gang tackles running back Avery Morrow correctly. He is the Colorado State offense at the moment. If the Warrior defense and offense continue to progress as they have in the past two games, I think Hawaii can leave Ft. Collins with a win. We’ll await the status of the Colorado State quarterback situation, but if it’s the walk-on again or Fowler-Nicolosi, that’s a plus for Hawaii.
I think Hawaii will do just enough. Give me Warriors 21, Rams 13.