San Jose State vs. Hawaii: Three Keys To A Spartans Win

San Jose State vs. Hawaii: Three Keys To A Spartans Win

Mountain West Football

San Jose State vs. Hawaii: Three Keys To A Spartans Win


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San Jose State vs. Hawaii: Three Keys to a Spartans Win

SJSU will hit the road to face the Warriors. Here’s our preview of how the Spartans can stay unbeaten in Mountain West football play.

Contact/Follow @MattK_FS@MWCwire

The Spartans won’t get it easy.

WEEK 14: San Jose State Spartans (4-0) vs. Hawaii Warriors (3-3)

WHEN: Saturday, December 5 — 3:00 PM PT/1:00 PM HT

WHERE: Aloha Stadium; Honolulu, HI

TV: Spectrum Pay-Per-View

STREAMING: For fans on the mainland, the game can be streamed using the Team1Sports application, which is available for download on Android and Apple devices and over-the-top platforms like Roku and Amazon Fire. Please note that the game will not be available on desktops or laptops.

You can also find the audio broadcast on TuneIn.

RADIO: The San Jose State broadcast can be found on 1220 AM out of Palo Alto, 95.3 FM in San Francisco, and on 90.5 FM (KSJS) in San Jose. The Hawaii broadcast can be found on the ESPN Radio affiliate in Honolulu, on 1420 AM and 92.7 FM.

SERIES RECORD: Hawaii leads the series 22-19-3. In the last meeting on November 9, 2019, the Warriors defeated the Spartans, 42-40, in Honolulu.

LAST WEEK: San Jose State had its road game against Boise State canceled because of COVID-19 concerns, while Hawaii beat Nevada at home, 24-21.

WEBSITES:, the official Hawaii athletics website |, the official San Jose State athletics website

GAME NOTES (PDF): San Jose State | Hawaii

ODDS (as of 12/5, via Vegas Insider): San Jose State -2.5

SP+ PROJECTION: San Jose State by 4.5 (60% win probability)

FEI PROJECTION: San Jose State by 1.4

Though their game against Boise State might have gotten the axe last weekend, the San Jose State Spartans’ path to a conference championship isn’t out of the woods just yet.

Because Santa Clara County updated their regulations to combat COVID-19 in the region, the Spartans will head to the islands for their date with the Hawaii Warriors. Though Todd Graham’s team has been officially eliminated from title game contention, they’ve been a thorn in the side to every team ahead of them in the standings this fall. With wins over Nevada and Fresno State on their ledger, as well as a one-score loss to Boise State, you can be sure SJSU isn’t overlooking this weekend’s opponent.

Here’s how San Jose State can stay on track for the Mountain West championship game and beat the Warriors.

Three Keys to a San Jose State Victory

1. Don’t hesitate to play your style of offense to the hilt.

One reason that Hawaii pulled its upset over the Wolf Pack last Saturday is that they forced Nevada to work underneath and rely on its running game to move down the field, taking the deep ball away from Carson Strong. Thankfully, Nick Starkel hasn’t really needed that to be as successful as he’s been in 2020, so if the Warriors are tempted to do the same thing, that should work in the Spartans’ favor.

Pro Football Focus noted that Starkel has thrived on quick throws, relying on Tre Walker, Bailey Gaither and company to earn yards after the catch. Their ability to do more of the same will go a long way against a Hawaii secondary that has played well but isn’t impervious to strong passing games: They forced three interceptions against Fresno State but allowed over nine yards per attempt, and they didn’t force Hank Bachmeier or Strong into any obvious mistakes over the last two weeks.

2. Don’t let Chevan Cordeiro beat you.

This one is pretty simple. When the sophomore quarterback is on his game, Hawaii’s offense is very hard to stop. When he isn’t, they are. Case in point, Cordeiro has averaged 4.37 yards of total offense per play in the team’s three losses and 7.65 YPP in their three wins.

It probably isn’t a coincidence, then, that Wyoming, San Diego State and Boise State all had a fair bit of success getting into the backfield, combining for 14 of the 21 sacks, and 28 of 42 tackles for loss, that Hawaii has absorbed this fall. That bodes well for a Spartans defense that still sports a 10.6% sack rate and a 20.5% stuff rate.

3. Win third-down battles.

One thing that both teams have in common is that, on the aggregate, both San Jose State and Hawaii have been above average in moving the chains on third downs and average in stopping opponents from doing the same. The Spartans have converted 44% of the time and held foes to a 44.3% rate, while the Warriors are at 41.9% on offense and 43.9% on defense. With such a narrow margin, it seems safe to say whichever team can keep the other’s offense off the field more often will earn a big advantage as the game progresses.


If Todd Graham has proven nothing else in 2020, his Hawaii Warriors remain a very tough out at home. That they get another contender at Aloha Stadium unexpectedly must be a pleasant surprise, but you can expect the Spartans will be ready to go no matter what.

This game is going to hinge on just how much progress each defense has made from the track meet that they ended up in a year ago, when neither team punted for sixty minutes. With that in mind, I think it’s more likely that San Jose State’s front seven can make more stops than Hawaii’s secondary and help the Spartans escape the islands with another win.

San Jose State 28, Hawaii 20


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