The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors started the 2019 college football season earlier than most and picked up the first upset of the year with a 45-38 victory over Arizona in Week 0. Because of the early start, Hawaii sat out Week 1 and had an extra week to prepare for a visit from the Oregon State Beavers.
Oregon State kicked off its season with a 53-36 loss at home against Oklahoma State. The Beavs looked improved in several areas but surrendered 555 yards of total offense and 352 rushing yards to the Cowboys — both worse than the averages that ranked 129th a year ago.
Oregon State at Hawaii
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 7 at 11:59 p.m. ET
TV: Spectrum (in Hawaii); Streaming available on Facebook (outside Hawaii)
Spread: Hawaii -6.5
When Oregon State Has the Ball
Beavers quarterback Jake Luton held off a challenge from Tristan Gebbia in fall camp to earn the start in the season opener. Luton proved worthy of the nod, completing 23-of-42 pass attempts for 251 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in Week 1. Gebbia saw the field as well and finished 3-for-7 with 30 yards and a TD.
Luton’s top target was Isaiah Hodgins, who led all Pac-12 receivers with 170 receiving yards on nine receptions, including two touchdowns. Nebraska transfer Tyjon Lindsey added eight catches for 35 yards and a TD in his first action with the Beavers. Running backs Jermar Jefferson and Artavis Pierce saw most of the action out of the backfield. Jefferson gained 87 yards on 16 carries, and Pierce chipped in with 53 yards on eight attempts.
The Hawaii defense will have its hands full. The Rainbow Warriors allowed 539 total yards to Arizona, and had defensive lineman Manly Williams not tracked down Khalil Tate on his last-second scramble would have likely been forced to overtime. The Rainbow Warriors surrendered 7.59 yards per play in Week 0, which currently ranks No. 123 on the FBS leaderboard. Of course, the unit came up big when it mattered most. Keep an eye on pass rusher Kaimana Padello, who had 8.5 sacks in 2018 and possesses one of the quickest first steps in college football.
When Hawaii Has the Ball
It’s rare — nay, almost impossible — for a quarterback to complete 29-of-41 passes (70.7 percent) for 378 yards and four touchdowns in the season opener and get benched in the fourth quarter. But it happened to Cole McDonald, who also threw four interceptions before Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich called on redshirt freshman Chevan Cordeiro in relief. Cordeiro responded well (as he did in spurts in 2018), throwing for 58 yards and a touchdown on 5-for-7 passing. McDonald will start against Oregon State, but if he struggles with decision-making again, Cordeiro is capable of stepping in.
Regardless of which quarterback is in the game, he’ll be looking for Cedric Byrd. The senior led all FBS players with 14 receptions and 224 receiving yards after one game and is tied for the national lead with four touchdown catches. JoJo Ward, Jared Smart and Jason-Matthew Sharsh all caught at least four passes and gained 50 yards or more, so the Rainbow Warriors have plenty of options outside. There’s a host of capable ball carriers as well. Six players combined for 30 rushing attempts and 159 yards on the ground against Arizona, and big running back Dayton Furuta led the way with 42 rushing yards and a score.
The scoreboard operator should get a workout Saturday night in Honolulu. Both Oregon State and Hawaii flashed explosive offenses in their respective season openers, and both defenses struggled to keep their opponents in check.
While the Beavers have a slight talent advantage, UH will host in the familiar confines of Aloha Stadium with an extra week of prep time, as well as a Run-and-Shoot offense already operating like a well-oiled machine. Expect Oregon State to match Hawaii nearly score for score, but for the Rainbow Warriors to pick up a second win over a Pac-12 opponent.
Prediction: Hawaii 45, Oregon State 42
(Top photo courtesy of Hawaii Athletics)