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Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. Colorado State Rams Prediction and Preview

Colorado State Rams LB Josh Watson

Colorado State Rams LB Josh Watson

Is this the season where Colorado State finally gets past the seven win mark? Or will Hawaii throw a wrench into the works as it tries to snap a string of seven straight non-winning seasons?

Both teams have plenty to prove going into their season opener on Saturday. The Rams have finished with a 7-6 record, punctuated by a bowl game loss, each of the last three years. The Rainbow Warriors scratched out a 3-9 mark last year after making a bowl game two years ago.

Colorado State holds a 15-9 lead in the series with Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors have not enjoyed much success against the Rams in the past three decades. Colorado State has won 10 of 11 games over Hawaii dating back to 1989 and hasn't lost at home to the Rainbow Warriors since '88.

Hawaii at Colorado State

Kickoff: Saturday, Aug. 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: CBSSN

Spread: Colorado State -14

Three Things to Watch

1. Can Colorado State reload on offense?

Matching last season's offensive production could be an uphill climb for the Rams. Several key contributors from a team that averaged a school-record 492.5 yards per game are gone. Colorado State will be breaking in a new quarterback, a new lead running back and three new starters on the offensive line. The Rams also will be replacing their top receiver and top tight end from a year ago.

Colorado State will turn to some seniors to keep the offense humming. K.J. Carta-Samuels, a graduate transfer from Washington, takes over at quarterback. Izzy Matthews is the team's top returning rusher after picking up 613 yards and eight touchdowns on 132 carries last season. Olabisi Johnson will likely be the top target for Carta-Samuels after tallying 595 yards and two touchdowns on 41 catches in 2017.

The Rams will need the offense to do some heavy lifting with a total rebuild underway on defense. Colorado State returns just five starters from a unit that yielded 431.6 yards and 27.8 points per game a year ago.

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2. Run-and-shoot returns to Hawaii

After seeing the Rainbow Warriors struggle to put points on the board all last season, Nick Rolovich is going back to the offense that put Hawaii on the football map under former head coach June Jones. Hawaii will deploy the run-and-shoot in an effort to light up the scoreboard again.

A change is definitely needed. The Rainbow Warriors averaged just 3.7 points per trip inside an opponent's 40-yard line last season. They ranked 122nd among FBS teams in that category. An inability to finish drives led to an offense that generated just 22.8 points per contest. Hawaii scored 23 points or less in all nine of its losses.

An inexperienced quarterback will be at the controls trying to make the run-and-shoot work again. Hawaii named sophomore Cole McDonald and freshman Chevan Cordeiro as co-starters at quarterback, according to the depth chart released this week. McDonald threw just nine passes a season ago. Cordeiro is a highly touted recruit from Hawaii who ran the run-and-shoot at Honolulu's Saint Louis School.

3. Bobo is back

Colorado State got some welcome news when head coach Mike Bobo rejoined the team this week. Bobo showed up at practice on Wednesday after being released from the hospital on Tuesday. He had been hospitalized following a team scrimmage on Aug. 11 after experiencing numbness in his feet.

Bobo was treated for peripheral neuropathy, a condition that causes weakness, numbness or pain because of nerve damage in the hands and feet. He plans to coach the Rams from the coaches' booth instead of the sideline.

Colorado State has enjoyed sustained success under Bobo. The Rams have reached a bowl game in all three of his seasons as head coach. Bobo has a 21-18 record overall entering his fourth season.

Final Analysis

Both Hawaii and Colorado State are looking to take a step forward while undergoing major rebuilding heading into a new season. The Rams seem like they are better positioned to make a climb up the Mountain West Conference ladder than the Rainbow Warriors. It could take Hawaii some time to get things figured out in a new offensive system.

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Prediction: Colorado State 38, Hawaii 28

-- Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.

(Top photo courtesy of Colorado State University Athletics)