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Hawaii @ San Jose State: Three things to watch out for, prediction

Location: San Jose, California (CEFCU Stadium)

Appointment time: Saturday, November 26 at 10:30 am (Hawaii time)

TV: Spectrum Sports PPV

Stream: That Team1Sports app is the route for mainlanders.

Radio: ESPN Honolulu

Head to head: Hawaii leads this series 22-21-1, about as even a series can be. Hawaii will make its first trip to San Jose since 2018. COVID restrictions forced the 2020 competition to Oahu, meaning the last three games of this series were held in Hawaii. Indeed strange. The Spartans have won the two most recent competitions and with a win on Saturday they can level the streak of 22 wins a bit.

1. The elephant in the room

On paper, Saturday’s game at the CEFCU Stadium means little. The Spartans completed bowl eligibility but are unable to catch West Division champion Fresno State in conference racing. Hawaii missed bowl eligibility weeks ago. A 6-4 team against a 3-9 team. He’s unlikely to be on the must-watch lists for the final week of the college football regular season.

However, Hawaii fans and players have circled this game on their calendars for almost a year. Why? Chevan Cordeiro.

The product of the Saint Louis School is in the record books of Hawaiian football for serving as quarterback for the Rainbow Warriors for nearly four seasons. Around this time last year, rumors about head coach Todd Graham’s coaching style began leaving the dressing room and reaching the public. It was disrespectful and the players were fed up with his cultural disruption. Chevan Cordeiro has had enough. Cordeiro shockingly entered the transfer portal and set off a domino effect that ultimately resulted in a multitude of players leaving the program. By the time Todd Graham resigned and hired Timmy Chang, the damage had already been done.

Darius Muasau went to UCLA. Jonah Laulu to Oklahoma. Hawaii football can’t compete with such programs in the transfer portal era, that’s life. Cordeiro was believed to be tied to Power 5 as well. Instead of this? The West Division rival in San Jose State. A shocker for UH fans and players.

All very fun, of course, but expect Hawaii to have an extra zest in her step.

2. About the spartan quarterback…

Hawaii’s collection of defensive players need no lecturing, they know what to expect from Chevan Cordeiro. Still, he’s the dangerous man for the Spartans.

2022 wasn’t a standout season for the Mountain West when it comes to offensive execution. However, Cordeiro did his part to throw for 2,676 yards, 18 touchdown passes, three interceptions and completing 60% of his passes. Almost in the middle of the street numbers, but in a bad year for the conference, he has a hoot for all conferences. His 196 rushing yards count as sack yards. College Football Does It, It’s Stupid, Hawaii Will Know Better: Cordeiro can be a nightmare of getting tripped when he’s climbing.

Nevada transfer wide receiver Elijah Cooks is Cordeiro’s favorite target, he has 862 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns on the season. This isn’t rocket science, if Hawaii is going to upset San Jose State on Seniors’ Day, they need to keep Cordeiro and this offense at bay. Cordeiro has always been a rhythm player. Hawaii needs to get the best out of him early on.

3. Can Hawaii’s attack finish strong?

Much of the frustration behind Hawaii’s 3-9 record stems from the season-long struggles with offense. Quarterback carousel, turnovers, late-game collapse, it was a mixed bag of variables that led to Hawaii’s lost season. In recent weeks, however, the offense has started to show life.

Yes, back-to-back 31-point performances don’t light up the world by any means, but they show how deep the troughs were for this 2022 offense that Utah State’s and UNLV’s performances stand as a turning point for Timmy Chang’s much-maligned offense. In a balanced approach, quarterback Brayden Schager has found a rhythm (though he’s still struggling with turnovers) while the running tandem of Dedrick Parson and Tylan Hines has thrived.

Can Hawaii continue this trend this week? It’s a tough one, the Spartans rank 32nd in total defense, 38th in rushing defense and 42nd in passing defense nationally. Spartan defenders Viliami Fehoko and Cade Hall make up arguably Mountain West’s best line of defense. Linebacker Kyle Harmon is a star. There are definitely concerns about protecting Schager this weekend.

Honestly, if Hawaii wants to win on Saturday, we need to see something we haven’t seen in Hawaii all season: The Warrior offense, which succeeds against a strong defense.

At this point, it feels like an inside joke: Hawaii once again hovers somewhere between an 11- and 12-point underdog. Spread hunters all season, can they do it again?

To be honest I don’t like this matchup. Hawaii’s offensive line struggles with pass protection, and San Jose State’s defensive line is special. Spartans fans should be disappointed that this team wasted a special forces squad to a 6-4 season, although it’s obvious the Spartans are still reeling from the loss of their teammate weeks ago.

Oh heck, last week it worked: give me Warrior 17, Spartan 16.

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