By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The University of Hawaii football team kicks off its 2021 season this Saturday against the UCLA Bruins. As always, ESPN Honolulu will bring you all the action starting with the “New Countdown to Kickoff” show at 7:30 a.m. Kickoff is set for 9:30. Bobby Curran and John Veneri will call the action on ESPN Honolulu 92.7 FM/1420 AM, ESPNHonolulu.com and on your smart speaker (say “Play ESPN Honolulu”).
Most college prognosticators have predicted 6 wins for the Rainbow Warriors this season, but I think they’ll do better than that. Here’s how I see the 2021 campaign playing out:
Game 1: Aug. 28 – @ UCLA. Bruin fans are still waiting for head coach Chip Kelly to get the program back on track. UCLA is a 17.5-point favorite to beat our Rainbow Warriors, but they may not be prepared for the uptempo pace of the UH offense. Chevan Cordeiro will have to try to match Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s dual-threat ability in this contest – and I think he will. Hawaii will keep it close, but the Bruins will prevail. UCLA 38, Hawaii 30.
Game 2: Sept. 4 – PORTLAND STATE. The Vikings are an FCS program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2015. The only “upset” here would be if this game is close. Hawaii 45, Portland State 10.
Game 3: Sept. 11 – @ OREGON STATE. The Beavers showed flashes of potential last season – including scoring an Big upset over their arch-rival, Oregon – but this is a team still struggling to reach contender status in the Pac-12. OSU’s defense is suspect, so I expect Hawaii to put up some points. Hawaii’s road experience at UCLA will help the Rainbow Warriors in this one. Hawaii 31, Oregon State 27.
Game 4: Sept 18 – SAN JOSE STATE. The Spartans handed Hawaii a 35-24 loss last season on their way to capturing the Mountain West title. This game will be closer, but SJSU should take this one. Their success last year wasn’t a fluke. SJSU 27, Hawaii 24.
Game 5: Sept. 25 – @ NEW MEXICO STATE. Fun Fact: The Aggies have yet to beat Hawaii in eight tries. Another Fun Fact: Hawaii’s margins of victory against NMSU have never been fewer than 11 points. Unless UH is emotionally down after the SJSU game, this contest should be a big W. Hawaii 48, NMSU 24.
Game 6: Oct. 2 – FRESNO STATE. The Bulldogs are almost always a tough opponent for the Warriors, and this year will be no different. Hopefully, by the time this game happens, Hawaii fans will be able to fill the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex. UH will need every home field advantage they can get. Hawaii 33, Fresno State 30.
Game 7: Oct. 16 – @ NEVADA. Led by QB Carson Strong, Nevada is a big favorite to win the MW West Division. Strong has a powerful arm, prototypical NFL size and some weapons. The UH defense will be tested in this one. Nevada 38, Hawaii 30.
Game 8: Oct. 23 – NEW MEXICO STATE. Yes, again. The Aggies will make some adjustments in this rematch, but it won’t be enough. Hawaii 54, NMSU 20.
Game 9: Oct. 30 – @ UTAH STATE. The day before Halloween, Hawaii will try to “trick” Utah State and “treat themselves” to another road win. This is the kind of game where Calvin Turner could go off. Hawaii 35, Utah State 27.
Game 10: Nov. 6 – SAN DIEGO STATE. Last season, the Aztecs gave Hawaii its worst loss of the year, a 24-point drubbing in San Diego. This year, the game is in Hawaii, and the Warriors will be out for revenge. It will be a hard-hitting and competitive contest, but, alas… SDSU 24, Hawaii 17.
Game 11: Nov. 13 – @ UNLV. The Rebels are dwelling at the bottom of the MW West, seemingly in perennial rebuilding mode. UH should take this one easy. Enjoy the casinos, Hawaii fans! Hawaii 37, UNLV 26.
Game 12: Nov. 20 – COLORADO STATE. Colorado State will be improved from last season, but it won’t be enough to stop a UH team on a roll. Hawaii 34, CSU 24.
Game 13: Nov. 27 – @ WYOMING. I can think of better ways to end the regular season than a road game in sub-freezing Laramie. All the elements will be against UH, but if this team is as good as I think they will be, the Rainbow Warriors will be too hot to handle – even in the snow. Hawaii 20, Wyoming 16.
PREDICTED 2021 REGULAR-SEASON RECORD: 9-4 overall, 5-3 in the MW.
BOWL GAME PREDICTION: EasyPost Hawaii Bowl: HAWAII 37, MEMPHIS 24.
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