Fresno State (1-3) at Hawaii (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 10th, 11:05 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aloha Stadium (50,000) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: BSN. Home Record: FSU 1-1, Hawaii 1-0. Away Record: FSU 0-2, Hawaii 1-2. Neutral Record: FSU 0-0, Hawaii 0-0. Conference Record: FSU 0-1, Hawaii 0-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 20-20-1.
GAME NOTES: The Fresno State Bulldogs try to snap a three-game slide this weekend as they make the trip to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu where they will meet up with the Hawaii Warriors in a Western Athletic Conference showdown.
Since defeating UC Davis rather handily in the opener by a score of 51-0 at home, the Bulldogs have hit a roadblock everywhere else. First it was a 34-31 double-overtime setback to Wisconsin on the road, then a 51-34 defeat at the hands of 10th-ranked Boise State in the conference opener followed by a 28-20 loss to 14th-ranked Cincinnati in Ohio back on September 26th. Since then, FSU has been planning on how to stop Greg Alexander and the Warriors.
However, whatever schemes the Bulldogs may have drawn up to counter one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in Alexander have now been rendered useless. Last week the Warriors not only lost to Louisiana Tech, 27-6, in their conference opener in Ruston, they also lost their signal-caller for the rest of the season with ligament damage in his left knee. With Alexander now a bystander, Hawaii will have to turn to someone else to guide the offense and try to snap the squad's two-game slide.
Hawaii has a mark of 14-9 at home against FSU and has won three straight overall, thanks to a 32-29 overtime decision a season ago. With that win the Warriors knotted the all-time series at 20-20-1.
The offense for the Bulldogs this season is predicated on the efforts of the rushing attack or, more specifically, how much damage Ryan Mathews can inflict on the opposition when he gets his hands on the ball. Mathews, who ranks second in the nation this week with an average of 148 ypg, is registering close to seven ypc and already has five rushing touchdowns. Fellow running backs Lonyae Miller and Robbie Rouse, both of whom are also averaging better than six ypc, provide ample punch when Mathews heads to the sideline for a breather. Ryan Colburn has been trying to guide the offense as best he can, but the junior signal-caller has had his share of ups and downs. Against Wisconsin he posted a career-best 289 yards passing and four touchdowns, but he also tossed three interceptions which proved to be costly. Because Mathews has been so dominant, the offense has tried to rely on a rushing attack that is currently tied for third in the nation with 274.8 ypg, but if Colburn doesn't find a groove the Bulldogs could be in trouble down the stretch.
Ignoring the season opener versus UC Davis, a game in which the Aggies were held scoreless by the FSU defense, the Bulldogs have been less than impressive when trying to lock down opponents. After four games, Fresno State ranks 115th in the nation and last in the WAC with just .75 sacks per game. Tied for 103rd in the country and fifth in the league, the Bulldogs are posting a mere 4.25 tackles for loss at the moment as well. The pass defense looked strong in the first two games of the campaign, allowing just a single scoring toss, but in the last two outings that has changed with both Boise State and Cincinnati hitting for three aerial scores apiece. If not for a 94-yard interception return for a touchdown by Nico Herron versus UC Davis, critics would be drawing even more attention to the fact that this team has forced just two turnovers in four games and is now 112th nationally in turnover margin with a minus-1.50 per game.
Against LaTech last week, Alexander had his chances to make something happen as he connected on 20-of-34 passes for 199 yards, but he failed to get the Warriors into the end zone. What's worse, he tossed a pair of interceptions and opened himself up to numerous hits and five total sacks before being knocked out of the game, and the season. Bryant Moniz came in for Alexander and hit 5-of-11 passes for 109 yards, but he too was taken down for a pair of sacks. If the Warriors were hoping that the so-called rushing attack would come to the rescue they were sadly mistaken. Against Tech, the team was left with minus-seven yards net, which means on the season the group is 118th nationally with just 67.3 ypg on the ground. Forget that Hawaii still ranks third in the country with close to 400 ypg through the air because that responsibility now falls to either Moniz or sophomore Shane Austin since junior Brent Rausch is himself still recovering from injury.
While the rushing offense for the Warriors has been rather dismal again this season, the run defense for the squad is beginning to show signs of wear as well. If not for allowing Central Arkansas just 84 yards on 31 attempts, the numbers would be even more lopsided for the Warriors after four games. LaTech in particular made a mockery of the unit last week, registering an unsightly 352 yards and three touchdowns on 57 attempts. It should come as little surprise that Hawaii now ranks 102nd in the country in yards allowed on the ground at 183 per game. Corey Paredes may pose the only threat for the defense right now, owning team highs of four TFLs and three sacks, not to mention coming up with three forced fumbles. When it comes to pass coverage Mana Silva has shown some moments with his six passes defended and team-best three interceptions.
According to the stats, the Warriors have an offensive line that is inclined to allow far too much penetration which means whomever ends up taking the snaps for the team is going to be in harm's way on nearly every play. Expect FSU head coach Pat Hill to exploit that factor and attack the Hawaii weakness time and time again.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 31, Hawaii 13
10/07 10:30:46 ET