Finally, a new chapter of Hawaii football begins.
The last year plus has been a rollercoaster for Hawaii football fans. 2021 began with the Aloha Stadium drama and ended with essentially every single key player on the team entering the transfer portal. Chevan Cordeiro, Darius Muasau, Dae Dae Hunter, Nick Mardner, Khoury Bethley, Jonah Laulu. The list goes on.
Those departures led to outcry, which led to the disastrous state senate meeting. Which then led to Todd Graham resigning a week later. Finally, fingers crossed, the drama is over to some extent with the hiring of former Hawaii quarterback and Nevada/Colorado State (kind of?) wide receivers coach Timmy Chang.
ESPN released their early edition of the 2022 SP+ rankings. They were not kind to UH, the Warriors rank 122nd out of 131 teams. This is largely tied to the fact that the team ranks 130th in returning production. Needless to say, Hawaii will feature an inexperienced coaching staff leading an inexperienced team. Initial expectations in terms of wins and losses might require patience from fans.
Here is the slate the Warriors will take on this fall:
Date - Opponent
Aug. 27 - VANDERBILT
Sept. 3 - WESTERN KENTUCKY
Sept. 10 - @Michigan
Sept. 17 - DUQUESNE
Sept. 24 - @New Mexico State
Oct. 1 - Bye
Oct. 8 - @San Diego State*
Oct. 15 - NEVADA*
Oct. 22 - @Colorado State*
Oct. 29 - WYOMING*
Nov. 5 - @Fresno State*
Nov. 12 - UTAH STATE*
Nov. 19 - UNLV*
Nov. 26 - @San Jose State*
*denotes conference game
Home games in caps and bold
The Timmy Chang era kicks off with a rare visit from an SEC school to Hawaii. It’s Hawaii’s first game against SEC competition since the 2008 Florida game, the first home game since the 2003 Alabama game. Vanderbilt doesn’t quite carry the value of those programs, but they’re in the SEC nonetheless.
The following week, Hawaii has another home game against Western Kentucky. Quality chance for the Rainbow Warriors to open the season 2-0. After that, Hawaii’s dreaded trip to Michigan. Hawaii last played in Ann Arbor in 2016, a 63-3 loss to the Wolverines. That was Nick Rolovich’s first season as head coach.
Hawaii returns home to face FCS foe Duquesne, whom the Warriors played against in 2018. Hawaii then travels to Las Cruces again to take on New Mexico State. The Warriors are slated to play the Aggies five additional times through 2028. After this contest, Hawaii receives their one and only bye week of 2022 during the week of October 1st. Meaning Hawaii will conclude the season with eight consecutive conference games. Ouch.
The positive side of this? No consecutive weeks of road games in 2022. Hawaii will exit the bye to face San Diego State in their brand-new fancy stadium. The following two weeks will feature a tour through Timmy Chang’s past: a home game against Nevada, where he coached for five years, and then a trip to Ft. Collins to take on Colorado State and his mentor, Jay Norvell.
Hawaii then returns to home to face Wyoming, the Warriors’ last game against the Mountain Division. In 2023, the foes will flip, and Hawaii will play Air Force, Boise State, and New Mexico. The final four games are all against divisional foes, starting with a trip to Fresno State. The Bulldogs are a likely conference championship favorite, and will have eyes on revenge after their 2021 loss to Hawaii played a huge role in the ‘Dogs missing the conference championship game.
Hawaii’s final home stretch features a visit from Mountain West champs Utah State, and a Senior Night game against UNLV. The season finale? A showdown in San Jose against Chevan Cordeiro that is sure to take the rivalry to another level.
Overall, it’s a schedule that gives and takes. It’s simple math: two home games right off the bat to start the season likely indicates a lot of road trips in the middle of the season, and that proved to be the case here. Hawaii avoided the dreaded back-to-back weeks of road games, but will still be plenty busy traveling. This Rainbow Warriors team will be doubted, but there is a strong chance to start the season 4-1 or 3-2. Only one cold weather game all season (Colorado State). That three week stretch of Nevada, Colorado State, Wyoming will see the Warriors sink or swim, in my opinion.
What are your thoughts on the schedule? What are the expectations for Hawaii football in 2022? Are they as doomed as the preseason projections suggest? Will they pull a 2021 Utah State and shockingly compete for the conference title? Somewhere in the middle? Comment below.