By Bobby Curran.
It all comes down to this one game – all the hopes and aspirations for an entire season down to an afternnoon in Laramie, Wyoming.
Wyoming is not dissimilar to Hawaii, but a softer non-conference schedule means their overall record is better at 6-5 compared to 5-7. Both teams have been horrifyingly inconsistent and are each 2-5 in MWC play. Incredibly, the Rainbow Warriors have a real shot at a bowl game if they can win on Saturday. There are currently 75 teams that have met the criteria of being .500 or better, and there are 82 bowl slots. UH has been assure that if it wins, it will be the first 6-7 team selected AND it will be assigned to play at home at the Ching Complex.
Wyoming is a run-first team that has two excellent RBs. Xazavian Valladay has 942 yards at 5.3 ypc and 5 TDs. Titus Swen has 718 yards at 6.3 ypc and 6 TDs. The Cowboys have used 2 QBs this year. Levi Williams is listed as Saturday’s starter, he’s 48-85 for 702 yards with 7 TDs and 5 INTs for 57%. Sean Chambers, meanwhile, is 87-172 for 1,100 yards, 6 TDs and 7 INTs for 51%.
The receivers are led by Isaiah Neyor, who has 36 grabs for 713 yards and 10 TDs, good for 19.8 per catch. The next five receivers have combined for 86 receptions, 866 yards and three scores. Defensively, the Cowboy are gritty and stingy, surrendering 169 yards rushing and 164 yards passing per game.
UH comes off its best offensive effort of the year, with 535 yards – 405 of them through the air. Calvin Turner, Zion Bowens and Nick Mardner combined for 18 catches, 363 yards and two TDs. Dedrick Parson had 78 yards and two scores on the ground. Chevan Cordeiro was 23-41, throwing for 2 TDs and running for another.
On defense, Hawaii gave up a lot of yards, but had three takeaways, including a pick-six by Cameron Lockridge. Darius Muasau cemented his status as one of the best defenders in the MWC, with 13 T, giving him 101 for the year, and Khoury Bethley came up with his fifth INT of the year.
All in all, a spirited performance that, if duplicated, could send UH bowling on Christmas Eve.