Utah State and Hawaii could possibly be two of the WAC's darkhorses this season. Or they could be awful. Like most things in the WAC, it's hard to tell.
After the jump, find out why each can make a pretty good case for bowl eligibility and discuss which one you think might go bowling. Can either topple Boise State? For that matter, can either beat LaTech? Share your thoughts in the comments and in the poll.
All this week, OBNUG will be checking in with Boise State's 2010 opponents to see how their spring is going. Now: Hawaii and Utah State. Next: Nevada. Previously: Virginia Tech. Wyoming. Oregon State. Toledo. Louisiana Tech. San Jose State and New Mexico State. Idaho.
The last indelible image of Hawaii and Utah State's 2009 season
Neither the Warriors nor the Aggies could get bowl eligible in 2009, despite turning in fairly mediocre seasons across the board. Isn't that what the San Francisco Bowl was created for? If USU hadn't lost to New Mexico State and if Hawaii hadn't put together a six-game losing streak, oh how things might have been different.
What has changed
The Aggies lost budding all-conference running back Robert Turbin to an ACL injury in postseason workouts. Turbin is expected to miss the 2010 season. Fighting for his carries are a trio of backs - Derrvin Speight, Kerrwynn Williams, and Michael Smith. Smith appears to be on the outs to do a lack of r's in his first name.
Hawaii will have its work cut out replacing players along the offensive and defensive lines. C John Estes is the most notable departure. A total of seven offensive and defensive line starters are gone.
What hasn't changed
Utah State is in the second year of head coach Gary Andersen's tenure, and he has Aggie fans drinking the Fanta of optimism. Anderson's commitment to defense is cute, and he has players like LB Bobby Wagner to build around.
On offense, QB Diondre Borel returns for his senior year as the team's biggest playmaking threat. You may remember Borel from the way he effortlessly turned seven-yard losses into two-yard losses against Boise State last fall. He has four of his five offensive linemen back this season, which normally helps but this is Utah State so I'm not really sure.
Hawaii has hope with its big number of returners at key positions, including all of its two-deep wide receivers, all of its secondary, and the strength-in-numbers QB play of Bryant Moniz and Shane Austin. Whether Moniz or Austin wins the starting job is still to be decided, but either quarterback will have the luxury of throwing to WR Greg Salas who is very good except for when Kyle Wilson is covering him.
The question: Will either team be bowl eligible in 2010?
The Warriors and Aggies have a lot of good things going for them. They each have a lot of key players returning, they each have San Jose State on the schedule, and there is pretty good chance that Troy Oppie will pick one of them to finish second in the conference in his preseason poll.
But does Hawaii or Utah State really stand a chance of becoming bowl eligible?
To find out, here is a look at each team's nonconference schedule. First, Hawaii:
- at Army
- at Colorado
- Charleston Southern
And Utah State:
- at Oklahoma
- Idaho State
- at San Diego State
(Note: Hawaii gets an extra noncon game because they are Hawaii.)
At best, I would give Hawaii three nonconference wins and Utah State two. Now, can either team find a way to wring four wins out of the WAC?
Neither school is going to beat Boise State. On paper, neither should be able to handle Nevada or Fresno State. So that brings it down to Idaho, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, and New Mexico State.
The Spartans and Aggies should be easy wins. If Hawaii and USU split with the Vandals and Bulldogs, that would mean that the battle for bowl eligibility will come down to who wins the Utah State - Hawaii game.
There may only be room for one of these teams in the bowl picture. Which one would you pick?
You may start disliking this person
Mmm, stevia. (via farm3.static.flickr.com)
You probably really dislike him if you are homosexual.
I have so much distaste for Colin Kaepernick that it just sort of spills over onto Borel. I mean, he runs like Kaepernick, he "passes" like Kaepernick, and he loses to the Broncos like Kaepernick. I can't help myself, I guess.
Hawaii's spring schedule
- Today: Spring practice starts
- April 30: Spring game
Utah State's spring schedule
- Spring practice began: March 23
- Spring game: April 24
Famed Hawaii blog Warriors Will Throw may not be posting as regularly as before, but their updates are always worth the read. In addition, UH has some of the absolute best journalists around, including my personal favorite Stephen Tsai and his enormously TMI blog posts.
Utah State has bits and pieces of Internet blogs like KVNU. The Deseret News is your best bet for traditional media updates - meaning boring stuff and features on why USU gets outrecruited by BYU and Utah every year.
To the comments ...
Think Utah State or Hawaii is bowl material? Can either team pose problems for the Broncos? Should someone introduce Greg McMackin to Coke Zero already before he gets Type 2 diabetes? Share your thoughts in the comments.