- Time: Saturday, 8:15 PM (MT)
- Location: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
- Weather at kickoff: 57°, clear
- Odds: Boise State by 12
- TV: ESPN 2
- Radio: KBOI 670 AM
- Commentators: Roy “Philly” Philpott, Kelly “Lean Cuisine” Stouffer, and Lauren “L’il” Sisler.
1. Runnin’ and Shootin’
When Nick Rolovich was hired by Hawaii, he vowed to bring back the high-flying run and shoot offense of yesteryear and now yesteryear has become this year and Hawaii is running and shooting it to great effect. McDonald is currently 7th in the FBS in passing yards (Hank Bachmeier is 15th), just a skosh behind UCF’s Dillon Gabriel. As you’d expect, Hawaii also has two receivers in the top 35 of the FBS in receiving yards (more on those two later). So, if you were wanting a boring defensive struggle on Saturday evening, I have a sad trombone for you...it’s gonna be lit (the scoreboard that is).
2. Mainland mangling
As evidenced by Hawaii’s manhandling of Nevada IN Reno, their mainland struggles might at least be on a year hiatus, BUT the Broncos also have history on their side in a mainland matchup with the Rainbow Warriors. Boise State, who’s 12-3 all-time against Hawaii, is a sterling 6-0 against our island pals on The Blue including my personal fave—a 69-3 beating in 2004 where chants of “Tim-mmy, Tim-mmy” rang out for most of the evening. This Hawaii team is better than that 2004 UH squad, but probably not as good as the team that nearly beat the Broncos here in 2006. This one should be interesting.
3. Live like Dan
The undefeated 2009 squad will be honored at this homecoming game on Saturday night, but so will a key member of that team that has sadly left us—Dan Paul. The fan favorite fullback died back in July and has been fondly recalled and memorialized the last couple of months, but will be a central focus of Saturday night’s festivities as his family will serve as honorary captains and the ubiquitous hammer—carried on the field before every game will come to be known as the Dan Paul Hammer. I can’t think of a more fitting honor for The Danimal—who sought out so many “nails” in his Bronco career.
4. Rolo week
Boise State - Won 5
Hawaii - Won 2
Best name(s) on their roster
Senior DB Rojesterman Farris II (there is another Rojesterman, y’all) is (and has been) my personal fave. Also, if you can say sophomore RB Hekili Keliiliki’s name 5 times fast, I owe you a Coke.
Best picture on their roster
Freshman DB Travon Killins’ hair erupts like a geyser every 6 hours. The photographer got really lucky.
Players to watch
Cole McDonald, QB
Does Cole McDonald have a farm? I have no idea...but he does have an arm and he’ll put it to good use on Saturday if history is any indicator. McDonald already has 1,629 yards and 17 TDs this season which is a pretty crazy 5 game total...but the run and shoot offense has always rewarded guys with a quick release in the stats department. McDonald does have 9 INTs on the year as well, so he’s not completely sterling, but takeaways haven’t been a specialty of this Bronco squad, so they may need to find more innovative ways to take away the pass.
Cedric Byrd, WR
McDonald will find plenty of targets in a typical game, but Cedric Byrd has the slight edge in the race for McDonald’s “best friend”. Through 5 games, Byrd has already caught 40 of McDonald’s passes and turned them into 9 receiving TDs. At roughly 99 receiving yards per game, this is a guy to keep a SHARP eye on. I have two sharp eyes, by the way—makes wearing contacts extremely difficult.
Jojo Ward, WR
Byrd may have the most targets and TDs, but Byrd may be the slightly bigger “home run threat” with the highest YPC on the team (14.9). Honestly, it might just be easier to say “watch all the Hawaii wide receivers”.
Kalen Hicks, DB
Hawaii has some tall DBs, which takes one side of the matchup troubles away when you’re dealing with lankier guys like John Hightower or John Bates. Hicks, a 6’3” senior, is leading the team in tackles with 36, and also has chipped in an INT and 4 pass breakups. This dude is having a great senior season and I’m sure would love to continue it on Saturday evening.
Kai Kaneshiro, DB
Kaneshiro, a 6’2” DB (told you they had some height there) is leading the team in interceptions with two. Crazy thing is, he only has been credited with one tackle on the year—not often you have guys with twice as many INTs as tackles, but here we are.
Players NOT to watch
No one of consequence is expected to be out for Hawaii, but if you’re old school like myself...you will still be scanning the sidelines frantically for Colt Brennan, Davone Bess, or Ryan Grice-Mullen.
Keys to victory
- Take the shoot out of the equation. Boise State is 23rd in the country in total defense, and 14th in passing defense. Trust me...both of those stats can either get an underline or a strikethrough on Saturday.
- Get takeaways. The Broncos have just not been getting the takeaways this year—at least the interceptions, and this would be a GREAT game for that trend to turn around.
- Establish the run. As great as those defensive statistics are that I just cited...the Broncos have some work to do in establishing the historically powerful Boise State ground game. They currently rank 76th in the country in rushing offense as they struggle to get short yardage “push” or land on a feature back. Will the run game finally start to click?
- Don’t lose. Have I not silenced the doubters yet?
I’m not as confident about this as I’d like to be.
Boise State 34, Hawaii 24