UNLV vs. Hawaii: Three Keys To A Rebels Win

UNLV vs. Hawaii: Three Keys To A Rebels Win

Mountain West Football

UNLV vs. Hawaii: Three Keys To A Rebels Win


UNLV vs. Hawaii: Three Keys to a Rebels Win

UNLV gets one last crack at a win when they head to the islands to face Hawaii. Here’s our preview of how the Rebels can upset the Warriors.

Contact/Follow @MattK_FS@MWCwire

Can UNLV get into the win column?

WEEK 15: UNLV Rebels (0-5) vs. Hawaii Warriors (3-4)

WHEN: Saturday, December 12 — 8:00 PM PT/6:00 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 UNLV broadcast can be found in and around Las Vegas on ESPN 1100 AM and 100.9 FM. 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 17-12. In the last meeting on November 16, 2019, the Warriors defeated the Rebels in Las Vegas, 21-7.

LAST WEEK: UNLV had its home matchup against Boise State canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. Hawaii lost at home to San Jose State, 35-24..

WEBSITES: UNLVRebels.com, the official UNLV athletics website | HawaiiAthletics.com, the official Hawaii athletics website


ODDS (as of 12/10, via Vegas Insider): Hawaii -20

SP+ PROJECTION: Hawaii by 14.1 (79% win probability)

FEI PROJECTION: Hawaii by 14.7

The UNLV Rebels have had a long and demanding fall, but it will reach its conclusion one way or another late on Saturday night with a date on the islands against the Hawaii Warriors.

In recent years, the clash for the Island Showdown Trophy has often been more hotly contested than you might recall, with five of the last seven games between UNLV and Hawaii being decided by one score, though the Rebels have had a devil of a time hanging around in 2020 when teams begin to lean on their strengths and pull away. The Warriors aren’t without their own flaws heading into the finale, but they nearly came back from a huge defeat to steal a win from Boise State, they got Nevada to play into their hands in an upset victory over the Wolf Pack, and they almost overcome a three-touchdown deficit against San Jose State. Needless to say, the Rebels will need to bring their best to finally secure a “W”.

Here’s how UNLV can beat Hawaii.

Three Keys to a UNLV Victory

1. Get Charles Williams involved early.

We’ve been waiting all season long for the senior running back to finally break out, but the offense’s general inefficiencies haven’t really helped him much week after week and explains most of why he’s averaging a career-low 3.7 yards per attempt. Against Hawaii, though, the Rebels might actually get to save the best for last.

That’s because the Warriors have been blasted over the past month by running games of varying strength, allowing over six yards per carry to San Diego State and San Jose State and allowing 5.7 YPC to Nevada. Hawaii also ranks among the worst teams in the country by opportunity rate and power success rate so Williams, as perhaps the best individual runner that the Warriors will face in this stretch, could be poised for a big role in helping UNLV dictate the terms of the game.

2. Don’t lose the first fifteen minutes.

One season-long problem that UNLV has struggled to correct is that they’ve often put themselves in holes that they’ll ill-equipped to dig out of. Case in point, they’ve been outscored in the first quarter by a 43-13 margin across their five games, allowing 7.48 yards per carry on the ground and 8.8 yards per attempt through the air on defense. An anemic ground game is the primary culprit on offense, where the Rebels have averaged just 2.59 YPC.

This ties into the first key mentioned above because, as bad as UNLV has been in the first quarter, Hawaii has been even worse in some respects. Not only have the Warriors themselves been outscored 72-17 in first quarters, they’ve coughed up 7.97 yards per carry, the third-worst figure in the country. That should be more than enough incentive for UNLV to simply line up and dare Hawaii to stop them in the trenches.

3. Let it all hang out.

Because the Rebels are winding down to the end of a clear Year Zero situation, there’s really not a lot of downside to doing things that teams wouldn’t typically do as underdogs. They have not, for instance, been shy about going for it on fourth downs, converting 10-of-13 tries, and they’ve given more playing time to youngsters on both sides of the ball. Whether it’s Doug Blumfield at quarterback, Tiger Shanks at left tackle, or Brennon Scott in the front seven, UNLV should probably just empty the playbook and let the blue-chip recruits ride to see what happens.


UNLV has had a rough go of things and it’s hard to see how Hawaii won’t just be able to get back on track, especially against a suspect Rebels defense. Despite being a two-touchdown underdog on average this season, the Rebels are 0-4-1 against the spread, so while they should be able to put together their most productive offensive performance of the year, don’t go dreaming of a late-night upset to cap Marcus Arroyo’s first year at the helm.

Hawaii 45, UNLV 21


More MWWire