College football action on Saturday evening and the PAC-12 Conference will square off with the Mountain West Conference as the Arizona Wildcats rumble with the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. These teams last met back in 2016 and the Wildcats won at home 47-28.
Wildcats Look To Make It To A Bowl In Sumlin’s 2nd Year?
The Arizona Wildcats made it to a bowl game in five of Rich Rodriguez’ six seasons at the helm, including his last year in 2017. He was replaced at the end of that year with Kevin Sumlin and despite having 14 starters back, the Wildcats failed to make it to a bowl as they finished with a 5-7 record. They will now look to get back to a bowl game in Sumlin’s 2nd year. This year, they are 15 starters back for the Wildcats, including QB Khalil Tate, who suffered through an injury-plagued season a year ago. Still, he threw for 2530 yards with 26 TDs and eight INTs, while rushing for 224 yards and two TDs. When not injured, that is one of the most explosive players in the nation. In 2017, he threw for 1591 yards and rushed for 1411 yards. Sumlin is hoping that the 2017 version of Tate will show up in this one.
The offense put up just 31.3 ppg last year, which is 10 ppg less than in 2017, but a healthy Tate will help the offense easily to last year’s numbers. The Cats also have back RB JJ Taylor, who had 1485 yards rushing a year ago, but they do lose their top four WRs from a season ago. Still, this is more of a running team and they have one of the best ground attacks in the Pac-12, along with the 3rd rated offensive line. They will be facing a Hawaii defense that allowed 205 ypg on the ground a year ago. Arizona should be able to run the ball in this one and then you can see Tate hitting some big plays down the field. That is in theory, anyway.
One of the newcomers who should make an immediate impact is four star freshman wide receiver Boobie Curry. At 6-2, 206, he’s got rare size for a true freshman and outstanding speed. Former quarterback Jamarye Joiner has the athletic ability to make an impact at wide receiver and could also make an impact this season with so many receivers gone.
— Arizona Football (@ArizonaFBall) August 17, 2019
The offense should not be a problem for the Wildcats this year, but the defense could be another story. Back in 2016, the Cats allowed 38.3 ppg and they had seven starters back in 2017 and still allowed 34.4 ppg. Last year, they had eight starters back and they still allowed 32.6 ppg. This year they have eight starters back and are hoping to improve enough so that they make it to a bowl game. Arizona has six of their top seven tacklers back from last year, including LB Colin Schooler, who had 119 tackles, including 18 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Sumlin had some solid defenses at Texas A&M and he will get the Wildcats to turn things around on this side of the ball. Arizona will get a good gauge as to where their defense is as the Hawaii offense is very explosive.
Hawaii Could Be A Threat In The Mountain West
The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors were one of the least experienced teams in the nation last year, but still, they finished with an 8-6 record. The Rainbow Warriors did lose to Louisiana Tech 31-14 in the Hawaii Bowl, but it was a far better season than in 2017 when they went 3-9. Hawaii could be headed for a bigger year this season as they come in with the 4th most experienced team in the nation. The Warriors have back 18 starters from last year, including QB Cole McDonald, who passed for 3875 yards with 36 TDs and just 10 INTs a season ago. The offense had just three starters back last year and they averaged 8.0 ppg more than in 2017 and the reason was the play of McDonald and he could have an even bigger season this year.
WR John Ursua is gone after 1343 yards receiving last year, but this is a deep receiving corps that the Rainbow Warriors have and it does rate as the best group in the MWC. Cedric Byrd and JoJo Ward are both returning after combining for 1835 yards receiving and 18 TDs last year. The running game is not that good, but they do have their top three running backs returning, while the offensive line rates as 5th best in the MWC. Hawaii averaged 30.8 ppg last year and I can see them topping 35 ppg this year. They are explosive and that could be a problem for an Arizona defense that always seems to struggle on that side of the ball.
— Hawaii Football (@HawaiiFootball) August 13, 2019
The Rainbow Warriors know all about struggling on the defensive side of the ball. Back in 2014, they had a decent defense that allowed 26.8 ppg, but they have allowed at least 33.9 ppg in each of the last four years. Last year, they gave up 35.1 ppg, but we could see their defense take a step forward this year as nine starters are back on that side of the ball. 80.6% of their tackles are back from a season ago and that is the 13th most in the nation. The Rainbow Warriors allowed 440 ypg a season ago, including 205 ypg on the ground. If they don’t stop the ground game in this one, then they will be in trouble. The secondary will be the strength of this defense, but the front seven is more important when facing a strong running game as the Wildcats have. The Warriors will be improved on defense this year and that makes them a threat in the Mountain West Conference West this year.
- 5-16 ATS in their last 21 road games
- 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games on fieldturf
- 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games in August.
- 8-2 ATS in their last 10 vs. the Pac-12