HAWAII @ SAN JOSE ST.
Location: San Jose, California (CEFCU Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 26th at 10:30 a.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: Spectrum Sports PPV
Streaming: The Team1Sports app is the route for mainlanders.
Radio: ESPN Honolulu
Head-to-Head: Hawaii leads this series 22-21-1, about as even as a series can be. Hawaii will be making their first trip to San Jose since 2018. COVID restrictions forced the 2020 contest to Oahu, meaning the last three games of this series have been in Hawaii. Strange, indeed. The Spartans have won the two most recent contests and can even up the series at 22 wins a piece with a win on Saturday.
Three things to look for:
1. The elephant in the room
On paper, Saturday’s game at CEFCU Stadium means little. The Spartans have wrapped up bowl eligibility but cannot catch West Division champions Fresno State in the conference race. Hawaii missed out on bowl eligibility weeks ago. A 6-4 team vs. a 3-9 team. Unlikely to be on must-watch lists for the final week of the college football regular season.
Hawaii fans and players, however, have had this game circled on the calendar for almost a year now. Why? Chevan Cordeiro.
The Saint Louis School product is all over the Hawaii football record books, having featured for the Rainbow Warriors at quarterback for nearly four seasons. Around this time last year, rumblings began to exit the locker room and enter the public domain about head coach Todd Graham’s style of coaching. It was disrespectful, and the players had had enough of his cultural disruption. Namely, Chevan Cordeiro had enough. Cordeiro shockingly entered the transfer portal and triggered a domino effect that ultimately led to a plethora of players leaving the program. By the time Todd Graham had resigned and Timmy Chang hired, the damage was done.
Darius Muasau went to UCLA. Jonah Laulu to Oklahoma. Hawaii football cannot compete with programs like that in the transfer portal era, such is life. Cordeiro was thought to be Power 5 bound as well. Instead? West Division rival San Jose State. A shocker to UH fans and players.
All in good fun, of course, but expect Hawaii to have an extra pep in their step.
2. About the Spartan quarterback...
Hawaii’s collection of defensive players will not require lecturing, they know what to expect from Chevan Cordeiro. Nonetheless, he is the danger man for the Spartans.
2022 has not been a banner season for the Mountain West when it comes to offensive execution. Cordeiro, however, has done his part throwing for 2,676 yards, 18 touchdown passes and three interceptions, completing 60% of his passes. Close to middle of the road numbers, but in a down year for the conference he has a shout for all-conference. His 196 rushing yards are counting sack yardage. College football does that, it’s dumb, Hawaii will know better: Cordeiro can be a nightmare to bring down once he scrambles.
Nevada transfer wide receiver Elijah Cooks is Cordeiro’s favorite target, he has 862 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns on the season. This isn't rocket science, if Hawaii wants to upset San Jose State on senior day, they’ll need to keep Cordeiro and this offense in check. Cordeiro has always been a rhythm player. Hawaii will need to get the best of him early.
3. Can Hawaii’s offense finish strong?
Much of the frustration behind Hawaii’s 3-9 record is tied to the season-long struggles with the offense. Quarterback carousel, turnovers, late game collapses, it’s been a mixed bunch of variables leading to Hawaii’s losing season. In the last few weeks, however, the offense has started to show life.
Yes, back-to-back 31-point performances is not lighting up the world by any means, but it highlights how deep the valleys were for this 2022 offense that the Utah State and UNLV performances qualify as a turnaround for Timmy Chang’s much-maligned offense. In a balanced approach, quarterback Brayden Schager has found a rhythm (albeit still struggling with turnovers) while the running tandem of Dedrick Parson and Tylan Hines has thrived.
Can Hawaii continue this trend this week? It’s a tough ask, the Spartans rank 32nd nationally in total defense, 38th in the rushing defense, and 42nd in passing defense. Spartan defensive linemen Viliami Fehoko and Cade Hall make up what is likely the Mountain West’s best defensive line. Linebacker Kyle Harmon is a star. There’s definite concern about protecting Schager this weekend.
Frankly, if Hawaii wants to win Saturday, we’re going to have to see something we haven’t seen all season from Hawaii: The Warrior offense succeeding against a strong defense.
At this point, it feels like an inside joke: Hawaii is once again floating somewhere between an 11–12-point underdog. Spread slayers all season, can they pull it off one more time?
Truth be told, I don’t like this matchup. Hawaii’s offensive line has been struggling in pass protection, and San Jose State’s defensive line is special. Spartans' fans should feel disappointed that this team squandered a special unit for a 6-4 season, although it’s obvious the Spartans are still reeling from the loss of their teammate weeks ago.
Aw what the hell, it worked last week: give me Warriors 17, Spartans 16.