The University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors visit the Oregon State Beavers Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time September 7th in Corvallis, Oregon. The battle will be between Mountain West Conference and Pac-12 Conference schools, respectively.
Both teams are coming off opening-game losses, though certainly the Beavers' loss was much more perplexing than the Warriors. At home, ranked 25th nationally and playing an FCS opponent in Eastern Washington, Oregon State unquestionably was the favorite. However, the Beavers ended up in a shootout with the underdog Eagles, who scored a touchdown with just 18 seconds left to win a shocker 49-46. By the way, eight FCS schools defeated FBS teams this past weekend ... and all on the road (see video). Hawaii was also at home but up against the 24th ranked squad in the nation: the USC Trojans. The underdog Warriors fought valiantly at times but lost to USC 30-13.
The loss by Oregon State is daunting in that the Beavers, led by longtime head coach Mike Riley, were nationally ranked plus they were viewed as a possible contender in the Pac-12 North Division. Now they're looking down the barrel of a realization that this team might have been a fluke in 2012 when they won nine games after two losing seasons including 3-9 in 2011. In the case of Hawaii, they are coming off a 3-9 season last year and although the men of Manoa figured to be improved in 2013, certainly a loss to the Trojans wasn’t unexpected.
So the two schools come into the game looking to improve … and in two entirely different areas. Oregon State needs to clamp down on defense which looked feeble against Eastern Washington, giving up an astonishing 625 yards. The secondary was shaky and the tackling was poor.
On the other hand, it was Hawaii’s offense that was meager against USC with only 15 first downs and an almost non-existent running game producing 23 yards on 31 carries – that averages less than one yard per carry. New quarterback Taylor Graham was inconsistent but considering this was his first live action in four years of football, improvement is probable. Warriors head coach Norm Chow fired his new offensive coordinator right as training camp began, so that may be an ongoing matter that needs to be worked out.
The Oregon State offense is led by quarterback Sean Mannion who surely did his job versus the Eagles, throwing for 422 yards with an impressive 37 of 43 passes that included three touchdowns and no interceptions. Interestingly enough, Mannion didn’t even secure his starting job until the week of the game after a heated battle in training camp with Cody Vaz. The Beavers running attack was barely adequate and that was a concern heading into the season.
The Hawaii defense figured to be their strength this season and it would appear so. They played hard against the Trojans and even had a 5-3 lead in the second quarter due in part to a safety.
On paper, Oregon State looks to be a heavy favorite. Then again, they were heavy favorites versus Eastern Washington and that didn’t work out so well. Nevertheless, the Beavers won’t be looking past anyone for awhile and should handle the Warriors. Final Score: Oregon State 34 – Hawaii 16.
Whether this is another year like the one the Beavers had in 2011 is up for debate. Also, the question for the Warriors is will they improve on offense enough to take some pressure off what looks like a good defense? These two teams have plenty of questions and maybe this contest will help solve at least one team's difficulties.
After this gridiron battle, the following week Oregon State heads into their Pac-12 opener at Utah who appears to be improved from a year ago. Hawaii has an early bye week before they head back to the mainland for a Mountain West opener at Nevada – a team that also has some problems.
Sources: University of Hawaii, Oregon State University