Utah State and Hawaii will clash in their 15th meeting.
Can the Utah State Aggies secure bowl eligibility against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors?
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With only two games left for each team, this matchup means very different things for each program.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (3-7) vs Utah State Aggies (5-5) 1:00 p.m. MT/10:00 a.m. HT
Location: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
TV: Spectrum PPV and Hawaiian Telecom PPV
Radio: KKEA ESPN 1420 (Honolulu), KNUI 550AM (Maui), KHLO 850AM (Hilo), KKON 790AM (Kona), KTOH 99.9FM (Kauai), KNWJ 104.7FM (American Samoa), XM Radio 203 and Sirius Radio 93.
Web Video Streaming: Watch Stadium
Web Audio Streaming: ESPN 1420
Spread: Hawaii +10.5
- Utah State holds the lead in the matchup history against Hawaii, 8-6.
- With a win, the Aggies can secure a bowl berth for the sixth time in the last seven years.
- With a win, the Rainbow Warriors would stop a three-game slide and earn their first road win of the season.
- USU is undefeated with Matt Wells at the helm after a bye week.
- In each of their wins, UH has scored 37 points or more but in their losses, they have failed to score more than 23 points.
UH: OUT: Fred Ulu-Perry (OL). OUT FOR SEASON: Metuisela Unga (TE), John Ursua (WR).
USU: OUT FOR SEASON: Tonny Lindsey Jr. (RB).
2017 Team Leaders:
Passing: Dru Brown (UH): 210-345, 2399 YDS, 16 TD, 8 INT; Kent Myers (USU): 122-193, 1224 YDS, 7 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Diocemy Saint Juste (UH): 242 CAR, 1349 YDS, 7 TD; Lajuan Hunt (USU): 125 CAR, 552 YDS, 8 TD
Receiving: John Ursua (UH): 47 REC, 667 YDS, 5 TD; Ron’quavion (USU): 34 REC, 373 YDS
Tackles: Jahlani Tavai (UH): 98 (55 SOLO) TKL; Suli Tamaivena (USU): 92 (32 SOLO) TKL
Sacks: Jahlani Tavai (UH): 4.5 SCK; Suli Tamaivena (USU): 3 SCK
Interceptions: Solomon Matautia (UH): 3 INT; Jalen Davis (USU): 5 INT
Keys to the Game:
The Aggies: Utah State does not do a whole lot of good things on offense. They are 58th (131.3) in passer rating and 93rd (4.9) in yards per rush. Defensively they do not fare much better with their 80th ranked (133.5 passer rating) passing defense and 74th ranked (4.5 yards per rush) rushing defense. The one thing they do better than the vast majority of FBS schools is, creating turnovers. They are 5th in the nation in takeaways with their 2.4 average per-game.
However, Hawaii has been excellent in protecting the ball averaging just 1.1 giveaways per game. So, the Aggies will have to make sure they shut down Diocemy St. Juste. After all, he accounts for over a third of their offensive production and leads the team in touchdowns with 7.
If they can keep him in check, Dru Brown will be in big trouble, especially due to the injuries and bad play plaguing his offensive line. He got sacked five times last week and was flattened on more than one occasion. The pressure will just prove to be too much and Utah State will get the turnovers they need to give their offense a helping hand.
The Rainbow Warriors: Much has not changed for Hawaii. They require their offense to perform well to win the game. So far this year, in each game they’ve won, the team scored 37 points or more. Unfortunately, the only teams they have scored that many points against are two of the worst FBS teams and an above average FCS team.
The Rainbow Warriors’ primary problem stems from the inability to finish off drives. This is no better illustrated by looking at their scoring offense compared to their offensive proficiencies in running and passing. They are the 97th ranked (0.323) scoring offense in terms of points per play. However, they are much better at moving the ball with a rank at 33 (4.9 yards per rush) for rushing yards per play and 59th (131.3) in passer rating. If they want to win they must find a way to add more wrinkles into their offense to help solve their scoring woes.
In the End:
The Aggies have won every game that they should have until this point and it does not look like it will stop now. They have managed to maintain a relatively healthy roster and their tough schedule so far has prepared them to close this season out properly. The Rainbow Warriors will not put up a big fight as they are looking deep into their roster to see what Nick Rolovich has for future seasons. It is just an unfortunate side-effect of their identity quest but a must do.
Utah State will flex their defensive muscles and remind everyone why they are the fifth best team in the nation in takeaways per game. Dru Brown will have the pleasure of meeting Suli Tamaivena and Jalen Davis up-close and personal. The Aggie duo will wreak havoc and compete for player of the game honors.
In the end, the score will be 31-17 with the Aggies coming out on top. It will only be fitting for them to become bowl eligible in their last home game for the seniors and the fans. They will still have one more game to lock their bowl berth down and will look to use the momentum from this game when they journey to Colorado Springs next week to take on Air Force.
As for the Rainbow Warriors, this game will provide help the coaches identify more playmakers on offense for 2018. Players like Kumoku Noa and Devan Stubblefield will finally get their chances to be featured parts of this offense. Both will impress as they have already done in flashes so far into their careers with the program. Hawaii too has one more game and it should be an interesting one; they will be facing their old rival BYU back in Honolulu.
Stay tuned for more on this matchup and don’t forget to follow along on Twitter.