San Diego State will take on the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors tomorrow afternoon as both teams aim for a 3-1 record.
The Aztecs are coming off a very disappointing 28-17 loss to San José State, and the Rainbow Warriors are coming off a 39-33 win over New Mexico.
San Diego State’s loss was due to three poorly-timed turnovers in the fourth quarter: a Carson Baker fumble, a Baker red-zone interception, and a muffed punt by Jordan Byrd. Each of these turnovers occurred with the game within one score.
The Aztecs will need to limit turnovers this week against a not-so-great Hawaii defense that has allowed 27.7 points per game so far this season. They have also surrendered 226.7 rush yards per game, a number that has the San Diego State running backs eager to thrive against.
The Aztecs have averaged 265 yards on the ground this season. Greg Bell is their leading rusher with 365 yards on 5.7 yards per carry. Against a suspect Rainbow Warrior defense, Bell should have a field day to carry SDSU to a win.
The San Diego State run defense is one of the team’s biggest strengths, as they only allow 99.7 rush yards a game. They have also yet to allow over 200 pass yards this season, but that will be a tougher task against Hawaii and quarterback Chevan Cordeiro.
Cordeiro shredded the New Mexico defense last week for 410 yards and four touchdowns. He is also a threat with his legs, rushing for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener. The sophomore quarterback will have a tough task against the No. 2 pass defense in the country.
For the Rainbow Warriors to win this game, they will need to win the turnover battle and have an improved run defense against an elite Aztec backfield. Last week against New Mexico, Cordeiro threw two interceptions, and the defense allowed 279 rush yards. If Hawaii’s defense performs like they did last week, Bell will run wild all day.
For the Aztecs to win this game, they will also need to limit turnovers, and Carson Baker needs to play clean football. He had troubles last week protecting the football and cannot allow that to be a recurring issue. Bell and Co. need to keep their rush game going to control the clock and keep the Hawaii offense on the sidelines.
Last season, Hawaii won the matchup between the two by a score of only 14-11. The win for the Rainbow Warriors clinched the West Division and sent Hawaii to the Mountain West Championship Game, where they lost to Boise State. Hawaii finished the season at 10-5.
This season, a lot will look different in this matchup. Both teams have new quarterbacks and head coaches in place. With both Cole McDonald and Nick Rolovich gone, Former Arizona State head coach Todd Graham replaced Rolovich as Hawaii’s head coach, and the team has looked towards the ground game more often.
Saturday’s game will be at Dignity Health Sports Park at 1 p.m. PT.