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Monday, October 25, 2021

Football

The Opposition: A look at Hawaii ahead of matchup vs. UH in bowl game


UH football defenders await the snap of the ball from Army in the Army Bowl on Dec. 22, 2018. This bowl game is the Cougars' most recent one. They lost in a 70-14 rout. | File Photo

UH football defenders await the snap of the ball from Army in the Army Bowl on Dec. 22, 2018. This bowl game is the Cougars’ most recent one. They lost in a 70-14 rout. | File Photo

Houston and Hawaii will meet in Frisco for the 2020 New Mexico Bowl on Christmas Eve with neither team having more than eight games under their belt this season.

The Cougars (3-4, 3-3 American Athletic Conference) enter this week off a 30-27 loss against Memphis, while the Rainbow Warriors (4-4 Mountain West Conference) come in off a 38-21 win over UNLV.

The two teams have only matched up once in their history back in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl, which resulted in a 54-48 Rainbow Warriors win.

Hawaii’s season

Hawaii sits fifth in the Mountain West Conference after the big win against UNLV on Saturday and has shown poise on the offensive side of the football, averaging just under 400 yards per game of offense and 26 points per game, and only scoring less than 30 twice.

Defensively, the Rainbow Warriors have struggled, allowing just about 29 points per game and 422 total offensive yards per game. The struggle comes from the run game, where they have allowed over 230 yards rushing per game and 17 total touchdowns.

Much of Hawaii’s success this season comes from sophomore quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, who leads the team in both passing and rushing with 1,947 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and rushing for 450 yards.

Though the Rainbow Warriors have shown a lapse on defense, they have a ball-hawking secondary that averages at least one interception a game and defends the pass at a high level, only allowing about 190 yards passing per game.

What to watch for

UH has relied heavily on junior quarterback Clayton Tune and the passing game as a whole in order to produce on offense, Hawaii has the kind of secondary that can make this game uncomfortable offensively if UH lets them.

The Rainbow Warriors’ biggest weakness on defense is the run, which has been the Cougars’ biggest weakness on offense, so expect Tune to still play a massive role in the offense despite this. Getting Tune involved in both the pass and the run will be vital in developing the tone on offense.

Defensively, UH will need to find a way to stop Cordeiro and prevent him from scrambling for big scores as Hawaii is not a big scoring team. However, if Cordeiro gets hot, they can put up points in a hurry.

The matchup sits tight with both teams having weaknesses that can be taken advantage of, but neither team necessarily guaranteed to do so. Expect the game to be tight, somewhat high scoring and an overall battle.

Where to watch

The game will take place on Thursday, Dec. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET at Toyota Stadium in Frisco. You can watch on ESPN and listen in on KRPC 950 AM radio.

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