HAWAII VS. UTAH ST.
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii (Clarence T.C. Ching Complex)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 12th at 6:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: Spectrum Sports PPV
Streaming: The Team1Sports app is the route for mainlanders.
Radio: ESPN Honolulu
Head-to-Head: Look away, Hawaii football fans. Utah State leads this series 11-6, and you would be hard-pressed to find a series with more lopsided results in Hawaii’s record books than this one. When Utah State joined the WAC, the Warriors initially owned the Aggies. Hawaii won five of six contests from 2005-2010, often blowout wins. In 2011, Utah State upset Hawaii 35-31 at Aloha Stadium. Since then, the Aggies won five straight against the Rainbow Warriors. The closest margin of defeat for Hawaii in that stretch? 20 points. It’s been all Aggies as of late.
Three things to look for:
1. The #BRADDAHOOD will be tested
Typically, when we enter the month of November, it’s time to talk about pivotal football games. When championships are near, bowl eligibility, all that jazz. That’s not happening for Hawaii. Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room: this has been a brutal season for Hawaii football players, coaches, and fans.
Hawaii football has endured 30+ point losses to Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Michigan, and Fresno State. The 19-point loss to New Mexico State might be the most embarrassing loss of them all. Close losses to San Diego State, Colorado State, and Wyoming were frustrating, but positive results moving forward, nonetheless.
...then the Fresno State game happened. 55-0 Bulldogs in the early fourth quarter before Hawaii tacked on some garbage touchdowns. The Warriors looked unprepared and frankly, maybe even a little checked out.
I look back to the preseason narrative. The #BRADDAHOOD. The mantra of the players who stayed and didn’t exit via the transfer portal. To me, the #BRADDAHOOD needs to be a mindset.
“Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” Hawaii is probably going to lose against Utah State, and UNLV and San Jose State. They’ll be underdogs at the very least. Last Saturday, it did not look like the Warriors put up their best fight. That’s what I’ll be keeping an eye on. Not just the score, but does this team keep fighting even when things are bleak? Now is when we see the merits of the #BRADDAHOOD.
2. Utah State has seen it all
The reigning Mountain West champions have been through a rollercoaster of a season. It started with a curiously close victory over UConn, who has turned out to be better than expected. The following week, the Aggies lost 55-0 to #1 ranked Alabama. Humbling, but forgivable.
...and then the Aggies were destroyed by FCS Weber State 35-7, and then followed that up with a home loss to UNLV. The unpredictability of college football is unrivaled. Star quarterback Logan Bonner got hurt and left the program. The fans booed the team during the Weber State game, leading to strange friction between coach and fan base. A shocking turn of events for the champs. From the top of the mountain, the Aggies tumbled back to ground level.
From there, in came junior quarterback Cooper Legas and the Aggies have righted the ship with a huge win over Air Force and wins against Colorado State and New Mexico. An injury to Legas played a big role in the loss to Wyoming, which likely keeps the Aggies from getting the chance to repeat as conference champions, but this is still a good team.
Running back Calvin Tyler Jr. is the man to watch, he has 809 yards from scrimmage this season. His talent combined with Legas’ arm and legs present a pick your poison situation for the Hawaii defense. Hawaii’s defense appeared to have turned a corner in October but is back to soul-searching after the shocking performance in Fresno.
3. The saddest Hawaii offense ever?
I remember sitting in the stands for the 1998 season. Fred Von Appen’s third and final season as head coach. Hawaii went 0-12 that season. At one point, the Rainbows were shutout at home back-to-back weeks. Didn’t score more than 21 points all season. Quarterback Dan Robinson and the Rainbows would write a historic story in 1999 with the 9-4 turnaround, but the 1998 offense might take the cake for “worst Hawaii offense ever.”
...but the 2022 offense might not be all that far behind. Hawaii enters this contest against Utah State ranked 114th in total offense, 123rd in scoring offense posting a sad 17.8 points per game. Good news? Utah State isn’t doing much better at exactly 20 points per game. All the same, Timmy Chang’s offense has been a mess in 2022. This isn’t all his fault; he inherited a roster ravaged by the transfer portal, but needless to say fans and onlookers expected better from this offense.
Utah State’s defense ranks 75th nationally in total defense. Middle of the road, which might as well be the 85’ Bears for this struggling Hawaii offensive unit. With UNLV and San Jose State to come, it’s unlikely we see a breakout performance on offense this fall. The 31 points posted against Nevada might be the peak.
Expect Timmy Chang and his coaching staff to dig all the way through the transfer portal. Creating competition is a must for this offense.
Another week, another spread that has Hawaii as a double-digit underdog. Utah State is coming off of a sluggish victory over New Mexico, so thankfully the Warriors are not running into another buzzsaw. Still, as long as Hawaii’s offense fails to score points consistently, it’s difficult to project a victory. We’ll see improvement on Saturday (there’s only one way to go after 55-13), but I think the Legas-Tyler tandem proves too much. Give me Warriors 17, Aggies 26.