FACTS & STATS: Site: Romney Stadium (25,513) -- Logan, Utah. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Hawaii 0-4, USU 1-2. Away Record: Hawaii 0-3, USU 3-2. Neutral Record: Hawaii 0-0, USU 0-0. Conference Record: Hawaii 0-5, USU 3-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 6-6.
GAME NOTES: One of five teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision still without a victory, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors give it another shot this Saturday as they pay a visit to the Utah State Aggies in Mountain West Conference action.
Hawaii, along with UConn, Georgia State, Miami-Ohio and Southern Miss, are the only teams still without a single tally in the win column to this point in the campaign, and the Rainbow Warriors head out on the road where they have dropped 10 straight decisions overall. Last weekend, the team hosted Colorado State and, despite holding the Rams scoreless in the second half, still bowed in a 35-28 final.
Needless to say, Hawaii is all alone in last place in the MWC's West Division with a record of 0-5, and now the team is hoping to secure a win on the road for the first time since taking down Idaho by a mere two points, 16-14, on Oct. 29, 2011.
As for the Aggies, they took a break from the action last week after crushing New Mexico, 45-10, on the road on Oct. 19. The victory snapped what had been a two-game slide for a USU squad, which is now 3-1 in league play and tied with Boise State for the top spot in the Mountain Division of the MWC.
Back in 2011, when both programs were part of the Western Athletic Conference, USU posted a 35-31 win over Hawaii, locking up the all-time series at six games apiece in the process.
Last Saturday night in Honolulu, Sean Schroeder tried to give the Rainbow Warriors a fighting chance versus Colorado State as he converted 28-of-49 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns, but he was sacked three times, tossed one interception and failed on a last-second Hail Mary Pass at the end of the game. Chris Gant was the top receiver for Hawaii with his eight catches for 159 yards and a score, but while the Rainbow Warriors were generating 418 yards of total offense, they managed a mere 32 net rushing yards.
The Hawaii defense gave the team a chance to pull off the upset as the unit stymied the Rams after intermission, but by then the damage had been done.
Unfortunately, the Hawaii defense has not been very stable this season. In fact, the group is currently ranked 116th in the country with 289.9 ypg allowed through the air and 106th in total defense with 466.1 ypg permitted. With all those yards piling up, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Rainbow Warriors are being touched for 35.3 ppg (107th in the FBS).
From an offensive standpoint, the Rainbow Warriors have reverted to being quite weak in the rushing department, coming up with a mere 75.3 ypg which is 120th in the country, The only hope for the team is that Schroeder, who has a string of four straight 300-yard passing games, can extend drives into the end zone in order to give the visitors a fighting chance this week.
While the Rainbow Warriors have Schroeder as a solid passing option, Utah State has been forced to move in another direction after Chuckie Keeton went down with a season-ending knee injury in early October. Keeton, one of the top passers in the nation who, because he plays in the MWC was probably flying under the proverbial radar, had been completing close to 70 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and only two interceptions before going down.
With Keeton watching from the sidelines, Darell Garretson has been called upon to fill the void. One of 27 true freshmen at the FBS level to start at QB this year, Garretson will be making his second start this weekend and should get plenty of support from a host of receivers. To the credit of Keeton, he was quite adept at spreading the wealth as there are six players who have at least three receiving touchdowns this season which means any one of them can step up and be a significant contributor for the offense.
On the ground, USU will call on Joey DeMartino to shoulder the load, having carried the ball 86 times for 606 yards and eight touchdowns already.
Similar to the wealth of receivers the Aggies have these days, there are also plenty of defenders who can make a serious impact when they are on the field for USU. Jake Doughty (89 tackles) and Kyler Fackrell (nine TFLs, four sacks) probably get top-billing most of the time, but it should be noted that there are as many as five players with at least 4.0 TFLs on a unit that is averaging better than seven such stops per contest right now.
Even without their star quarterback, the Aggies still hold a huge advantage over Hawaii both in terms of talent and venue for this weekend's event. However, if the Rainbow Warriors can summon up the same defensive effort that they put forth in the final 30 minutes against CSU last week, there's a chance the visitors could make things interesting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 34, Hawaii 20
Saturday, November 2, 4 p.m. (et).