HAWAII VS. STANFORD
Location: Honolulu, Oahu (Clarence T.C. Ching Complex)
Date/Time: Friday, September 1st at 5:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: CBS Sports Network
Streaming: You’ll need a cable log-in, but the game will be here.
Radio: ESPN Honolulu
Head-to-Head: Stanford has won all three meetings between the programs, albeit the most recent contest was in 1972. I’m sure everyone remembers the infamous 74-20 smashing Hawaii endured in the 1950 Pineapple Bowl. Hawaii will host Stanford again in 2025, and then travel to Palo Alto in 2026 and 2030. Or, I should say, that’s where things stand as of now. Realignment might mess that up.
Spread: Hawaii +3.5
Three things to look for:
1. The run-and-shoot is back in style
After disappointing on offense in 2022, Timmy Chang elected to readopt what he knows best: the run-and-shoot offense. On several occasions, I’ve preached patience. This system doesn’t always hit the ground running when inexperience with the system is the consensus on the depth chart. Brayden Schager and his young wide receiver crew felt differently.
Thousands of miles away from home, Hawaii’s run-and-shoot thrived against Vanderbilt. Schager finished the game 27-35 for 351 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. No, it wasn’t perfect, but that is a typical run-and-shoot stat line and one we didn’t see at all in 2022.
Kansas transfer Steven McBride made an instant impact. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Pofele Ashlock had 127 receiving yards in his college debut! A performance that earned him MWC Freshman of the week honors.
There will be bumps in the road. Mistakes will be made. That said, the early returns on this offense should have fans elated that at the absolute very least this team should be entertaining.
Stanford’s defense ranked 113th nationally in team defense last season, although 52 nationally in pass defense. Can the Warriors thrive again on Friday night?
2. Stanford arrives in disarray
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock the past month, here’s a brief recap: the Pac-12 was struggling to find an adequate TV contract that would satisfy their members. Everything seemed mostly fine during the summer, heck San Diego State appeared all but set to join the conference.
That didn’t happen. In late July, the first domino fell when Colorado elected to retreat back to the Big 12. Disaster was set in motion and by the end of August, the Pac-12 had been crushed to the point that only four schools remain: California, Oregon State, Washington State, and Hawaii’s Friday opponent: Stanford.
Rumors of ACC invitations float about. Stanford playing on the East Coast. College football has lost the plot. There’s even the outside chance Stanford and Hawaii could be future conference mates.
Stanford arrives at Manoa in a state of disarray. What happens to football, or more importantly their famed other sports? Anyhow, Stanford is also breaking in a new coaching staff. Troy Taylor arrives from Sacramento State, where he went 30-8. There are promises of a potent offense for the Cardinal this fall, although the offense has only two returning starters. The defense only has three.
The quarterback battle between Justin Lamson and Ashton Daniels doesn’t appear to have a public winner, but that might change sometime this week. All the same, inexperienced talent is all over the depth chart, and Stanford’s academic standards make it so they cannot just spam the transfer portal like other schools do.
Stanford is rebuilding and starting from the ground up. Even so, Hawaii is a slight home underdog. Can the Warriors take advantage of Stanford’s youth and score Timmy Chang his first signature win?
3. Something new for Hawaii football
Hawaii has been playing football since 1909, long before Hawaii was even a state. For much of the last half century, Hawaii has played its football games in Halawa at Aloha Stadium. After the stadium was shockingly condemned in early 2021, Hawaii has been playing on campus at makeshift Clarence T.C. Ching Complex.
This Friday, Hawaii is shutting down campus to accommodate fans. An unusual occurrence that caused some bickering on social media, campus attendees are not used to football games influencing class schedules.
I’m curious to see how the day plays out. Yes, yes I know NASED is supposed to happen one day. Eventually. At some point. For now, and the foreseeable future, Hawaii football is here to stay at Manoa. Can Hawaii start to build a new gameday culture? Weekday football games influencing campus activities is not unusual on the mainland, but it is for Hawaii. Some will complain, but I expect fans and students to pack Ching Stadium on Friday. Hopefully this is the beginning of something new.
I was glad to be wrong about the Vanderbilt game. Hawaii was much better than I expected, especially on offense.
Friday is there for the taking. Hawaii has shaken the off-season rust, whereas this is opening day for Stanford’s inexperienced squad. Hawaii cannot allow the special teams miscues to continue, and Brayden Schager needs to protect the ball a little better, but I think all the momentum favors Hawaii on Friday. Pofele Ashlock goes off again, and Cam Stone comes away with a big turnover. Timmy Chang gets his first signature win. Give me Hawaii 27, Stanford 24.