By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The 2021 University of Hawaii football schedule is out, and we’re 175 days away from the season opener at UCLA! I don’t know about you, but just the prospect of playing a full 13-game season again feels like a major win. Oh, there’s still some drama to be played out before our home opener against Portland State – like, you know, will the expansion of the TC Ching Athletic Complex be completed in time? (Minor stuff like that!) This will certainly be an interesting next few months.
Here are some quick takes on the 2021 schedule:
Aug. 28: @UCLA: Last season, I was really looking forward to finally watching the Bruins play at Aloha Stadium, but COVID-19 robbed us of that. So the two schools will lock horns in 2021 – in Los Angeles. Chip Kelly may have finally turned the corner at UCLA, and senior Dorian Thompson-Robinson is expected to be one of the Pac-12’s better QBs. Hawaii will be competitive, though.
Sept. 4: PORTLAND STATE: Easy win? Should be. Maybe this should be the Homecoming Game. Just remember, however, the last time Portland State came to town was in 2000, and the Vikings beat us by 25. This will be Portland State’s first football game since Nov. 23, 2019. (The Big Sky Conference did not have a football season in 2020 due to the pandemic.)
Sept. 11: @OREGON STATE: The Beavers apparently don’t give a “dam” about defense, surrendering 33 points per game last season. That would bode well for Chevan Cordeiro, Calvin Turner, Dae Dae Hunter and the rest of the potent UH offense.
Sept. 18: SAN JOSE STATE: As conference openers go, I can think of easier games than to play the defending Mountain West champions. But this will be an opportunity for Hawaii to avenge last season’s 35-24 loss to the Spartans. Is SJSU the real deal? We’ll find out early in the season.
Sept. 25: @NEW MEXICO STATE: This one makes me nervous. Hawaii is 8-0 all-time against the Aggies, and all of those wins were by double digits. If that isn’t enough of a possible jinx, the Aggies are a combined 24-108 since their last meeting with UH in 2011. If this doesn’t scream “Trap Game!” nothing will.
Oct. 2: FRESNO STATE: Got this one circled on my calendar. Few things are more pleasant than beating the Bulldogs in football. Expect a big W here.
Oct. 16: @NEVADA: Hawaii’s 24-21 victory over the Wolf Pack was one of the highlights of the abbreviated 2020 season. Chevan Cordeiro had a great game, completing 26 of 32 pass attempts for 246 yards and a TD. He also ran for 62 yards and another score. The Nevada player that intrigues me most is running back Toa Taua, who announced his commitment to Nevada during the 2018 Polynesian Bowl. Since then, Taua has averaged 110 rushing yards in his three games against Hawaii.
Oct. 23: NEW MEXICO STATE: Hmmm. This team looks so familiar. And suddenly I’m nervous again.
Oct. 30: @UTAH STATE: I see this as an “opportunity game” – that is, an opportunity to end Utah State’s five-game winning streak against us. It’s been an ugly matchup for us of late: In the last four meetings, the Aggies average victory margin over Hawaii has been 33 points.
Nov. 6: SAN DIEGO STATE: By most accounts, Aztecs have secured the best 2021 recruiting class in the conference, headline by four-star prospect Josh Simmons, a 6-7, 315-pound offensive lineman who could start from day one. UH has had some success against SDSU in recent years, so this will be a game to really look forward to.
Nov. 13: @UNLV: When Hawaii hosts the Rebels: “Meh.” When UNLV hosts the Rainbow Warriors: “Cheee-hooo! Quick! Get Vacations Hawaii on the phone!” Finally, UH fans should get their opportunity to check out Allegiant Stadium. Can’t wait.
Nov. 20: COLORADO STATE: Oh look, another historically bad matchup with a conference rival. The Rams have beaten our Rainbow Warriors seven times out of their last eight meetings. The good news? Hawaii won the most recent meeting – the 2018 season opener in Fort Collins – when Cole McDonald exploded for 514 total yards and 5 TDs. UH won that one, 43-34.
Nov. 27: @WYOMING: When was the last time Hawaii played more road games than home games? This could be an important contest, too. Let’s say Hawaii is 6-6 coming into the season finale and needs a win to secure a bowl invitation. Well, the last time the Rainbow Warriors pulled out a win in Laramie was in 1991, when Bob Wagner was the UH head coach. The good news: The last two times UH played in Laramie, the Cowboys needed extra periods to beat us. So we’ve come close.
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