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RWP - Hawaii vs. San Jose State: Three things to look for, Prediction

The winner takes home the Dick Tomey Legacy Trophy and the lead in the all-time series

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Fresno State Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

RWP = Rainbow Warrior Perspective


Location: Honolulu, Oahu (Clarence T.C. Ching Complex)

Date/Time: Saturday, October 28th at 6:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)

Television: Spectrum Sports PPV (Hawaii only)

Streaming: Team 1 Sports app (mainland only)

Radio: ESPN Honolulu

Head-to-Head: This series dates all the way back to 1936 with Saturday being the 46th meeting between the two programs. We’re all tied up at 22-22-1 all-time, meaning Saturday’s winner will take the series lead. The Spartans are riding a three-game winning-streak.

Spread: UH +8.5

Three things to look for:

1. San Jose State’s is sneaky good

As Mountain West conference play continues through mid-October, it’s difficult to gauge which teams are truly good or truly bad. Sure, Air Force appears poised for an undefeated regular season. Sadly, I think Hawaii’s fit themselves into the bad category. A team like San Jose State, though, requires some nuance.

The Spartans opened the season 1-5. It is, objectively, not what you want. Unless you despise the Spartans for some reason. Losses to Caleb Williams and USC, Oregon State, Toledo, the before mentioned Air Force, and a heartbreaking collapse against Boise State. In recent weeks, we’ve begun to see the Spartans settle down and destroy both New Mexico and Utah State in back-to-back weeks.

Do not allow that 3-5 record lure you into a false sense of security. San Jose State is one of the better teams in the MWC that’s had some bad rolls of the dice this season. There are many possible outcomes for Saturday’s game, and if Hawaii isn’t careful, a spanking is one of them.

2. Their offense is a nightmare to defend

Why are the Spartans a sizable favorite for this game? Well, truthfully because Hawaii football is in a bad place, but also because San Jose State’s offense is the real deal.

Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro will do what he does. Completing only 60% of his passes this season, Cordeiro will expect better of himself and maybe Spartans fans hoped for better too, but even when Chevan is off, his ability to scramble offsets any struggles. Hawaii has had issues with scrambling quarterbacks all season, and I don’t think that will stop Saturday.

Running backs Kairee Robinson and Quali Conley combine for 999 rushing yards this season and might be the best running back tandem in the conference. That’s bad news for a Hawaii defense that ranks 109th-nationally in rushing defense. Robinson is also quite adept in the screen game.

Wide receiver Nick Nash presents a size mismatch. Cordeiro’s favorite type of target. Even without star receiver Justin Lockhart (injured this season), the Spartans have an array of receivers capable of presenting issues.

I’m sorry, Hawaii fans, but I offer no reprieve. Saturday will be a difficult task. After all, beware the fallacy of the transitive property in sports, but the Spartans just destroyed the very New Mexico team that defeated Hawaii.

3. Chevan Cordeiro

Time to address the elephant in the room. You already know about Chevan Cordeiro. Saturday’s game will be the final chapter of a long, complicated story between Cordeiro and Hawaii football.

Cordeiro first showed off his potential in 2018 against Wyoming when starting quarterback Cole McDonald was unable to start due to injury. 2018! A career that started with the Nick Rolovich era, then endured COVID. And endured Todd Graham, leading to a shocking transfer to San Jose State. Somehow, six seasons later it all comes to a close Saturday.

Cordeiro’s name is all over Hawaii football’s record books, yet I’m sure the reaction Saturday will be mixed to some extent. It’s hard to not feel for Hawaii fans. Whether it’s Todd Graham setting the program back, or the stadium issue, or the many other things seemingly holding Hawaii back in modern college football, it feels cruel that fans might have to sit through a game where their former star might crush them on the very campus he attended. In a season of gut punches, this might be the heftiest punch of them all. Frankly, I think the experience might be conflicting for Cordeiro as well. How did we get here?


Hawaii football fans have experienced their fair share of disappointments lately. When Todd Graham chased off majority of the team’s best players, we knew before Timmy Chang was even hired that the climb back to the top of the mountain would be arduous. Last week’s beat down in Albuquerque was rock bottom. This week presents tougher competition than last week. On paper, there’s potential for the wheels to come off the bus.

Will they? Hawaii will need their A-game on both offense and defense (and special teams!), plus some turnover luck to defeat a talented San Jose State team.

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Can Hawaii bounce back from adversity? I don’t think it will be enough, but I expect spirted effort at home. Give me Rainbow Warriors 27, Spartans 35.