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Hawaii vs UNLV

Sad to say, the University of Hawaii football season comes to a close this Saturday. It’s a bittersweet feeling, yes? On one hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has robbed us of a full 13-game schedule of Rainbow Warrior games. On the other hand, hey, at least we got eight games – many other schools didn’t even get that.

One such School is UNLV, Hawaii’s season finale opponent on Saturday. The Rebels were forced to cancel two games because of COVID concerns. It’s been that kind of year.

Here are some pregame notes heading into Saturday. Be sure to listen to the game on ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM/1420 AM). Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. Also, join the ESPN Honolulu crew for “Countdown to Kickoff” live from Big City Diner at Windward Mall (4:00 p.m.)!

♦ Last season, the Rainbow Warriors used a stifling defense to shut down the Rebels, 21-7, in Las Vegas. UH cornerback Cortez Davis’ 43-yard pick-six in the third quarter put the visiting team ahead, 14-7, and Hawaii never looked back. Offensively, QB Cole McDonald carried the load for UH, passing for 211 yards and adding 43 yards on the ground. McDonald also had 2 rushing TDs to lead the offensive attack.

♦ Hawaii leads the overall series with UNLV, 17-12. UH is an impressive 11-3 at home against the Rebels. Five of the last seven meetings between these two schools were decided by 8 points or less. (Note: Hawaii is a 20-point favorite to beat the Rebels on Saturday.)

♦ UH head coach Todd Graham will need to win on Saturday to avoid a sub-.500 inaugural season for the first time in his head coaching career. The worst he has done as a first-year coach is 6-6 (2011, as the head coach for Pitt).

♦ Hawaii and UNLV will once again be playing for the Island Showdown Trophy, which originated in 2017 as a way to commemorate the rivalry between the two schools and the strong relationship between Hawaii and Las Vegas. UNLV captured the trophy in that inaugural year, while UH has maintained possession of the trophy the past two seasons.

♦ Look for Hawaii to try to reverse its early-game woes on Saturday. UH has been outscored 118-61 in the first half this season, and 72-17 in the first quarter. Hawaii has never led a game after the first quarter this season.

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