Hawai’i Football: Who’s on the 2024 schedule & how does it look?

Hawai’i Football: Who’s on the 2024 schedule & how does it look?

Hawai’i Football: Who’s on the 2024 schedule & how does it look?

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 29, 2024

HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i football program, in conjunction with the Mountain West Conference, revealed the 2024 football season schedule for the Rainbow Warriors Thursday morning that features 12 regular season games, three bye weeks, the new Pac-12/Mountain West crossover game and much more. 

In 2023, UH played a 13-game schedule and finished 5-8 overall, just missing out on bowl game eligibility in year two under Timmy Chang. The ‘Bows will play a completely different slate of non-conference opponents while only seeing four repeats from the Mountain West schedule this year as the conference works with the overall realignment in college football that impacted the remaining Pac-12 teams.

Below is a quick week-by-week breakdown of the 2024 Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors’ football opponents with dates and game locations included. 

WEEK 0 – vs Delaware State (August 24) 

Last season record: 1-10 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 1st Meeting 

Hailing out of the FCS, the Hornets finished last in the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) in 2023 after posting just one win and losing all five conference contests. It’ll be Year 2 of the Lee Hull rebuild of the Delaware State program as the former CFL wideout and Patriots’ training camp invitee looks to incorporate 13 new signees, six high school prospects and seven college transfers. 

The first-time opponent of Hawai’i returns most of last year’s extremely-youthful roster while adding key pieces like UNLV transfer WR Jordan Jakes and former 5-star QB recruit D’Wan Mathis – the later of whom previously spent time with Georgia backing up Stetson Bennett before transferring to Temple in 2021. 

WEEK 1 – vs UCLA (August 31) 

Last season record: 8-5 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 4-0 

The ‘Bows will look for their 1st win in program history over the Bruins as UCLA visits UH for the first time since 1939 for the Poi Bowl at Honolulu Stadium. Hawai’i and UCLA have played twice since the turn of the century, both in Pasadena and both 3+ TD wins for the Bruins. 

UH will serve as first-time head coach and former UCLA All-American DeShaun Foster’s first game as HC for the Bruins. The former NFL standout spent the past seven seasons as the RBs coach for his alma mater, was promoted to associate HC ahead of the 2023 campaign and took the full-time gig after Chip Kelly’s February departure. Under Foster’s tutelage, UCLA has led the Pac-12 for two straight years but lost leading rusher Carson Steele to the NFL draft. The Bruins will still have RB T.J. Harden, who completed his sophomore season right behind Steele with 827 yards and 8 rushing TDs. 

WEEK 2 – BYE (September 7) 

WEEK 3 – at Sam Houston State (September 14) 

Last season record: 3-9 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 1st Meeting 

The second of two first-time opponents for UH, the Bearkats will be participating in their second FBS season and first that it is eligible for the postseason. Sam Houston began to figure things out to end last season, winning three of the final four games in 2023 as they competed as members of Conference USA. 

Hawai’i serves as the home-opener for the Bearkats as Sam Houston hits the road for the opening two games of their slate. Sam Houston received six CUSA player honors, placing three players on the all-freshman team while also returning DB Da’Marcus Crosby – one of the program’s two 1st-team all-conference defenders from last year. 

WEEK 4 – vs Northern Iowa (September 21)

Last season record: 6-5 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 0-1 

The 2nd FCS opponent on UH’s 2024 schedule, the Panthers worked through a difficult slate last year to finish above .500 with two wins over ranked FCS opponents and five total ranked opponents. Northern Iowa will see Dylan Raiola and Nebraska in Lincoln before traveling to Honolulu to take on the Rainbow Warriors for the second time ever. 

UNI is led by longtime head coach Mark Farley, who ranks second amongst active coaches in FCS wins with 180 and has guided the Panthers to winning seasons in 19 of the 23 years he has been head coach, developing 40 NFL players in that time. He is *almost* as legendary as the great Stan Sheriff, who spent 23 years as UNI’s head coach for football before becoming the school’s athletic director for another 13 calendar changes. Sheriff is in both UNI and UH Hall of Fames, serving as Hawai’i’s athletic director for 10 years as well before his passing.  

*Note: If Hawai’i wins versus both Delaware State and Northern Iowa, only one of the victories will be counted towards bowl eligibility requirements. * 

WEEK 5 – BYE (September 28) 

WEEK 6 – at San Diego State (October 5) 

Last season record: 4-8 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 22-9-2 

Some déja vu here for Hawai’i, who has dropped the last four meetings against SDSU with the most recent matchup ending in a 41-34 home loss for the ‘Bows while coming off of a bye week back in October of 2023. The ‘Bows have historically struggled in San Diego, sitting at 3-11 all-time while visiting the Aztecs, but will look for some revenge as they get a do-over of sorts from last season against a rebuilding San Diego State program under new head coach Sean Lewis. 

It’ll be the UH defense, newly under the watch of longtime coaching veteran Dennis Thurman, who will especially circle this one. The ‘Bows allowed 21 points in the 4th quarter of that 2023 loss to the Aztecs and hope to begin the Mountain West portion of the schedule with a resounding response one year later while changing the series’ historical narrative. 

WEEK 7 – vs Boise State (October 12) 

Last season record: 8-6 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 15-3 

The 2023 season was a strange one for Boise State, but one that ended in a record fifth overall Mountain West title and the conference-best fourth championship game behind over 300 rushing yards. The Broncos did it under the leadership of then-interim head coach Spencer Danielson, who won the final three games of the year (including the MW title game against UNLV) before being elevated to the full-time head coaching position. 

Boise State will be boosted by On3’s highest-rated Mountain West recruiting class since 2002 with 28 total players being added to the defending conference champions. The most notable is former 5-star recruit and USC transfer QB Malachi Nelson, the 13th-rated high school recruit in the class of 2023. The 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman will likely compete for the starting job for the Broncos after previous starting QB Taylen Green transferred to Arkansas this offseason. 

WEEK 8 – at Washington State (October 19) 

Last season record: 5-7 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 2-3 

Taking the place of Hawai’i visiting Air Force, the ‘Bows will head to Pullman instead as part of the Pac 12/Mountain West alliance (agreement? partnership?) that sees all MW teams playing one of Oregon State or Washington State during the conference schedule. The programs haven’t met in 15 years – the last matchup was September 12, 2009 – but both sides have something to prove after five-win seasons. 

It’ll be a matchup of young, third-year head coaches as WSU head coach Jake Dickert and UH head coach Timmy Chang face off. Hawai’i has struggled on the road over the past two seasons and Dickert sits a game under .500 after his couple years as Pullman’s main man. The Cougs have a couple Hawai’i connections on the roster in DBs Kapena Gushiken and Tanner Moku. Gushiken is a KS-Maui graduate and transferred into WSU after two seasons at Saddleback College while Moku is a KS-Kapālama alum who is the younger brother of former UH offensive lineman Kaiwi Chung (‘18). 

WEEK 9 – vs Nevada (October 26) 

Last season record: 2-10 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 12-13 

Another team with a change in the lead chair, Nevada hired Jeff Choate as the 28th head coach in program history back on December 4, 2023, replacing Ken Wilson after serving as the co-defensive coordinator at Texas for the past three seasons. The Wolfpack won’t be Choate’s first head coaching job at the college level, though. The longtime football coach spent four years as the head man at FCS Montana State, leading the Bobcats to back-to-back playoff appearances in his final two seasons. 

This matchup is always fun for multiple reasons, perhaps none bigger than the connections between the two programs. Defensive tackle Dion Washington made the flip in the transfer portal from the Wolfpack to the ‘Bows this past offseason while Hawai’i’s head coach Timmy Chang spent a few seasons with Nevada before taking over his alma mater’s football program. Nevada also started redshirt freshman QB A.J. Bianco for eight games last season as the former Saint Louis standout battled for the position all year.

WEEK 10 – at Fresno State (November 2) 

Last season record: 9-4 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 25-20-1 

The Bulldogs looked like the Mountain West favorite through the non-conference schedule in 2023 with a perfect 4-0 start and winning four of their first five conference games – and then the wheels fell off. Fresno State lost the final three regular season games, crushing conference hopes, before salvaging the end of the year with a win in the Isleta New Mexico Bowl over NMSU, 37-10. 

Hawai’i didn’t play the Bulldogs in 2023, last meeting in Fresno in 2022 – Chang’s first season. This could be a particularly good measuring stick game to show how far Hawai’i has come in a couple seasons against one of the conference’s typical powers. The matchup also pits the Mountain West’s top two passing touchdown leaders against each other in Hawai’i senior Brayden Schager (26 TDs in ‘23) and Fresno State junior Mikey Keene (24 TDs in ‘23). Preemptively take the over in this one. 

WEEK 11 – vs UNLV (November 9) 

Last season record: 9-5 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 14-19 

One of the four rivalry trophy games, it’s the “Island Showdown” Trophy on the line. The Rebels took the rivalry trophy back last season with a 44-20 win over Hawai’i as UNLV turned into the “Runnin’ Rebels” with 307 yards on the ground while the ‘Bows went 1-of-11 on 3rd down. 

It’ll be a much different UNLV squad coming to the islands after redshirt freshman QB Jayden Maiava transferred to USC this offseason and former starter Doug Brumfield retired from football. That doesn’t mean the Rebels will be in trouble in year two under 2023 Mountain West Coach of the Year Barry Odom, who recruited and gained the commitment of Holy Cross graduate transfer QB Matt Sluka – an FCS standout that totaled 29 total TDs, over 1,200 yards rushing and more than 1,700 yards through the air in his senior season. The 6-foot-3 dual-threat quarterback should be an excellent fit in Brennan Marion’s “Go-Go Offense” that saw great success last season. 

WEEK 12 – at Utah State (November 16) 

Last season record: 6-7 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 12-5 

The fifth and final of Hawai’i’s opponents that made a bowl game in 2023, the Aggies have won seven consecutive matchups with the Rainbow Warriors and the last three in Logan, Utah. In fact, Hawai’i is just 2-6 on the road against USU since 1957.  As the ‘Bows look to switch back to an FBS contender again, this can be a statement of sorts on the road. 

Utah State finished just a game ahead of the Rainbow Warriors in 2023 and could be one of the key swing games for Hawai’i’s bowl hopes in Chang’s third year. There will be some NFL-level receiving talent on display in this one as Utah State’s All-Mountain West 1st-Team receiver Jalen Royals and Hawai’i’s 2nd-Team All-Mountain West receiver Steven McBride both returned to their respective programs. That doesn’t even mention UH’s Freshman All-America selection Pofele Ashlock, who led the team with 83 receptions last season while hauling in nine scores, tied with McBride for tops on the team. 

WEEK 13 – BYE (November 23) 

WEEK 14 – vs New Mexico (November 30) 

Last season record: 4-8 | All-time record vs Hawai’i: 11-16 

The loss at New Mexico last season ended up being a crushing blow to the bowl chances of Hawai’i as the Lobos were one of three teams to finish below the ‘Bows in the final conference standings. There’s a chance that this season’s bowl hopes will rest on this final regular season game and the Rainbow Warriors don’t want to repeat history. 

New Mexico will be the fifth team with a new head coach that Hawai’i faces in 2024 as Bronco Mendenhall takes over the program in his return to the Mountain West. The 57-year-old was BYU’s head coach for 11 seasons, beginning in 2005. He compiled double-digit wins in five of those seasons with the first one coming in year two. Mendenhall was also 2-0 in his time at BYU against Hawai’i with a win at home and at Aloha Stadium. The ‘Bows will have to expel former demons all the way through the end of the year for bowl opportunities. 

Hawai’i wins 6th straight Senior Night Game to spoil Colorado State’s bowl hopes

Hawai’i wins 6th straight Senior Night Game to spoil Colorado State’s bowl hopes

Hawai’i wins 6th straight Senior Night Game to spoil Colorado State’s bowl hopes

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED NOV 25, 2023

HONOLULU – The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (5-8, 3-5 MWC) played spoiler on Saturday night, denying Colorado State (5-7, 3-5 MWC) an automatic bowl selection and winning on Senior Night for the sixth consecutive year, using a career-long 51-yard Matthew Shipley field goal as time expired to stun the Rams. 

Below, you can find all the quick hitters of the action from Hawai’i’s thrilling 27-24 win over Colorado State on Senior Night. 


1ST HALF:  

  • Hawai’i wins the coin toss and defers possession to the 2nd half, opening kickoff goes through the end zone for a touchback. Colorado State converts a pair of third downs in Hawai’i territory on the way to the game’s first points, a 21-yard TD run by freshman RB Justin Marshall. 
  • UH’s offense works quickly to pick up a few 1st downs before stalling out near the CSU 40, punting the ball away and bouncing past a Hawai’i gunner into the end zone for a touchback with 7:48 left in the 1st quarter. 
  • Elijah Palmer snags his 2nd INT of the season on a deep bomb from Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi to keep the UH deficit at seven with 4:38 left in the opening quarter. 
  • Hawai’i’s Brayden Schager connects with a streaking Steven McBride to get the ‘Bows out near midfield and Landon Sims dashes inside the CSU 35 on the next play to set up UH’s offense. The ‘Bows overcome an illegal man downfield penalty to score with eight seconds left in the 1st quarter on a 12-yard TD reception by Steven McBride, his 9th TD of the season. 
  • Hawai’i forces a punt, but a UH personal foul penalty on the play moves the sticks for a fresh set of downs for CSU instead. The drive continues after pass interference is called on Elijah Palmer for a free 3rd down conversion to set the Rams up at Hawai’i’s 25. UH’s Cam Stone comes up with a phenomenal PBU on 3rd & Goal to force CSU to settle for a 22-yd FG for a 10-7 Rams’ lead with just over 9 minutes left in the first half. 
  • The ‘Bows respond with a 5-play scoring drive, accented by a 26-yard TD reception for Devon Tauaefa on a double-pass from Schager to Chuuky Hines and into the end zone for the freshman TE’s 1st career touchdown. The ensuing PAT is good and Hawai’i takes a 14-10 lead. 
  • Colorado State drives to the Hawai’i 38-yard line with 1:31 left in the opening half and the ‘Bows defense produces the stop on 4th & 8 to give the offense a chance to double up on points with two straight possessions. 
  • Hawai’i makes it into CSU territory before Matthew Shipley’s 43-yard FG misses wide-right to end the 1st half, leaving the UH lead at 14-10. 

2ND HALF: 

  • Hawai’i receives the opening kickoff and calls for a fair catch, starting the drive at the HAW25. The ‘Bows offense goes three-and-out to begin the 3rd quarter, punting the ball away after just 90 seconds with possession. 
  • CSU’s first possession of the 2nd half comes from the Colorado State 35-yard line, responding with a three-and-out of their own without picking up a single yard during the possession for a single minute. Hawai’i takes over possession at the HAW15. 
  • UH overcomes a 2nd down holding penalty that backed them up deep with a laser from Schager to Pofele Ashlock to move the sticks. The two followed it up with a 41-yard catch-and-run to set the ‘Bows up at the CSU33 after a nice spin cycle by Ashlock left the Rams’ defender in the dust. 
  • Hawai’i finishes the drive with an 8-yard Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala touchdown run, the senior’s 1st career rushing TD, to extend the lead to 21-10 in favor of the ‘Bows with 8:24 left in the 3rd quarter.  
  • ‘Bows force a punt, drive inside the CSU5 before the 3rd quarter ends as Schager slices up the Rams’ defense with his arm and legs. When play resumes, an illegal blindside block penalty backs up the UH offense, forcing the ‘Bows to settle for a 35-yard field goal to make it 24-10 with 13:32 left in the game. 
  • Colorado State works quickly, stringing together 1st downs before Fowler-Nicolosi connects with Louis Brown IV on a 17-yard TD reception to cut it to 24-16 with 9:05 remaining in the 4th quarter. The 2-point conversion is NO GOOD, broken up by UH LB Noah Kema. 
  • Hawai’i goes three-and-out, punt the ball back to CSU’s 30-yard line. After being stopped on 3rd & 7 in Hawai’i territory, Colorado State attempted a 53-yard FG that came up way short and kept the UH lead at 24-16 with 4:25 left to play. 
  • After moving into CSU territory, Shipley’s 45-yard field goal try was blocked by the Rams with 2:30 remaining. Colorado State would capitalize by going to their best player, Tory Horton, for a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown with 54 seconds left in regulation. Horton brought in the 2-point conversion to tie it at 24. 
  • Hawai’i goes 41 yards in 54 seconds, scrambling with eight seconds left and somehow getting off a 51-yard FG as time expired for the win, 27-24.

Hawai’i finishes year two of the Timmy Chang flying high, winning three of the team’s final four games after adopting the mantra of “push the sled” as the defense pulled itself up by the bootstraps to allow 24 points or less in three of the final four contests after holding opponents to 20 or less in two of the previous nine games. 

The ‘Bows finish the season above .500 at home, going 4-3 inside the friendly confines of T.C. Ching Athletics Complex during the 2023 season. The win pushes Hawai’i to 7-7 at home under Timmy Chang over the past two years. The victory over Colorado State saw season-highs for total offense and rushing yards with 497 yards and 151 yards, respectively. 

Brayden Schager finished 30-for-43 passing the ball for 320 yards and a TD, the 20th time in the last 21 games that the QB has tossed for a score and the sixth game over 300 yards passing this year. One of his favorite targets, Steven McBride, moved over 1,000 yards on the season in the middle of the third quarter with a 16-yard reception. McBride is the 24th UH WR all-time to reach the 1,000-yard plateau and first Rainbow Warrior since 2019 to topple over the mark. 

Andrew Choi recorded Hawai’i’s lone sack in his final game as a Rainbow Warrior on Colorado State’s final drive of the night. Shipley’s game-winner was his second of the season, the previous coming against New Mexico State back on September 23. 

In a year of ups-and-downs, ugly moments and rough road trips, the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors stuck together through the toughest times to win three of their final four games and catapult the program into the offseason flying high as one of the best recruiting classes in recent program memory entering Mānoa for Year Three of the #BRADDAHHOOD under Timmy Chang and company. 

Don’t go anywhere, you’re not going to want to miss what’s coming next. 

Long shot bowl odds for Hawai’i no more after 42-9 loss at Wyoming

Long shot bowl odds for Hawai’i no more after 42-9 loss at Wyoming

Nov 18, 2023; Laramie, Wyoming, USA; Hawaii Rainbow Warriors head coach Timmy Chang after the game against the Wyoming Cowboys at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Long shot bowl odds for Hawai’i no more after 42-9 loss at Wyoming 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED NOV 18, 2023

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (4-8, 2-5 MWC) turned into pumpkins in the 1st half, reverting to an awful October form on Saturday while allowing 35 first-half points to the Wyoming Cowboys (7-4, 4-3 MWC), falling in Laramie, 42-9. With the loss, Hawai’i’s slim bowl hopes were dashed for good. 

In a series that had been known for parity and not having a repeat winner since joining the Mountain West, Wyoming was able to stun UH out of the gate and never allowed them to recover to become the first of the programs to hold onto the Paniolo Trophy for consecutive meetings as MWC members. 

Below, you can find the quick hits of the action from the ‘Bows blowout loss in Laramie. 


1ST HALF: 

  • Wyoming receives the opening kickoff after Hawai’i wins the toss and defers possession to the 2nd half. The Cowboys march down the field in one minute, going 75 yards in three plays to open a 7-0 lead. 
  • Hawai’i’s 1st offensive possession stalls after a delay-of-game penalty makes third-and-manageable into third-and-seven and Schager can’t connect with his receiver. Matthew Shipley pins Wyoming inside its own 15. 
  • The Cowboys strike quicker on the second drive than on the first, as John Michael Gyllenborg takes an Andrew Peasley pass 89 yards to the house. Wyoming extends the lead to 14-0 less than four minutes into the game. 
  • The ‘Bows offense finds some momentum and drives inside the Wyoming 5-yard line before being stopped in its tracks on 4th-and-goal from the WYO2. Cowboys take over with 14-point lead still intact 
  • Hawai’i’s defense able to secure its first stop of the day on 3rd down as Ezra Evaimalo got home to Peasley to force a Wyoming punt to open the 2nd quarter. 
  • The ‘Bows offense goes three-and-out, quickly putting the defense back on the field. Wyoming capitalizes on a fatigued UH defense, going 69 yards in six plays to make it 21-0 with 10 minutes remaining in the opening half of play. 
  • Hawai’i goes three-and-out once again, Wyoming strikes quickly once again. Four plays, 66 yards and a 40-yard TD reception by Wyatt Wieland puts the Cowboys up 28. 
  • After picking up a first down, Hawai’i takes a few deep shots down the field, the last of which is intercepted at the Wyoming 35 and returned inside the Hawai’i 40 to set up the Pokes with the best field position of the day. 
  • The Cowboys capitalized on the turnover three snaps later as Ayir Asante found paydirt on a 6-yard rush to push the lead to 35 with 2:35 left in the 2nd quarter. 
  • Hawai’i’s offense drives deep into Cowboys’ territory before Schager is intercepted for the 2nd time in as many drives, this time in the end zone on a miscommunication with Steven McBride. The ‘Bows come up empty on offense again and Wyoming runs out the remaining clock of the 1st half to take the 35-0 lead into the locker room. 

Brayden Schager eclipsed the 6,000-yard career passing yard threshold in the 1st half, becoming the 7th QB in UH program history to achieve the feat. The junior also went over the 3,000-yard mark for passing yards this season in the opening half of play. 

2ND HALF: 

  • The Rainbow Warriors receive the opening kickoff of the 2nd half but are only able to muster one first down before being forced to punt the ball away. 
  • UH’s Justin Sinclair rips the ball free from Wyoming’s Treyton Welch, recovers the fumble and returns it inside the Cowboys’ 25-yard line, trying to spark the sleepwalking ‘Bows. 
  • Hawai’i gets on the board with a 30-yard FG by Matthew Shipley, making it 35-3 with 8:37 remaining in the 3rd quarter. 
  • Hawai’i’s defense strings together consecutive stops for the first time all game, forcing Wyoming’s offense to go three-and-out and punt the ball back the UH. 
  • The Rainbow Warriors’ offense finds the end zone for the first time all day with Chuuky Hines’ first career TD catch, a 19-yard strike from Schager for the score. The 2-point conversion is no-good for Hawai’i, so Wyoming’s lead sits at 35-9 with 16 minutes left in regulation. 
  • Momentum continued to swing in the favor of the ‘Bows when Wyoming K John Hoyland’s 46-yard field goal try went wide-right with 12 minutes to play, keeping the deficit at 26 for Hawai’i. 
  • UH’s offense can’t pick up a first down and is forced to punt the ball away after being stymied in their own territory. The defense returns it to Hawai’i less than two minutes later. 
  • A DoVonne Harris sack of Brayden Schager kills the ensuing Hawai’i possession and UH is unable to convert on 4th-and-6 from their own 27. 
  • UH’s defense, which had held Wyoming scoreless since halftime, finally breaks on 4th–and-1 and watches Cowboys’ QB2 Evan Svoboda get around the left edge for an 18-yard score to ice it for the Pokes. 

Hawai’i continued the rollercoaster ride that the 2023 season has been, showing both the good and bad that have led to head-scratching losses and hoarse-voiced wins for fans. Wyoming improved to a perfect 7-0 record at War Memorial Stadium this season and moved above .500 in conference play with the win. 

Cowboys’ QB Andrew Peasley finished the day 14-for-17 passing the pigskin for 319 yards and three TDs, becoming the first opposing QB to throw for over 300 yards against the Rainbow Warriors this season. Wyoming totaled 472 total yards of offense, scoring six TDs – five in the opening half of play – continuing the home dominance of 2023 for the Pokes. 

The win for Wyoming marks the first time since the Pokes and ‘Bows joined the Mountain West that one of the programs won consecutive games in the series against each other, keeping possession of the Paniolo Trophy for another season. The previous seven meetings between the teams had been alternating winners. 

UH quarterback Brayden Schager finished 25-for-44 passing for 278 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. The junior moved into fifth all-time for Hawai’i quarterbacks in career passing yards after Saturday, leapfrogging Dan Robinson and Chevan Cordeiro to enter all-time ‘Bows QB company. His TD pass to Chuuky Hines in the 3rd quarter was his 40th career TD pass, tying him with Nick Rolovich for 7th-most all-time. 

Hawai’i’s Justin Sinclair enjoyed a nice game, forcing and recovering his first fumble while co-leading the team with five total tackles. Despite losing the turnover battle to Wyoming, the ‘Bows have forced seven turnovers while having just three giveaways over the past three weeks. 

With the loss, Hawai’i’s slight odds at being selected for a bowl game at year’s end closed. In a year of growing pains for the program, it’s another season before a return to postseason play for UH football.

Hawai’i returns home for Senior Night on Saturday, November 25 against Colorado State. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. HT.

Hawai’i looks to take back Paniolo Trophy against Wyoming

Hawai’i looks to take back Paniolo Trophy against Wyoming

Hawai’i looks to take back Paniolo Trophy against Wyoming 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED NOV 17, 2023

HONOLULU — Giddy up, Cowboy… er, Paniolo. 

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (4-7, 2-4 MWC) hit the road Saturday, looking to steal back the “Paniolo Trophy” from the Wyoming Cowboys (6-4, 3-3 MWC) and keep their long-shot bowl chances alive another week.  

The ‘Bows, coming off of a 27-13 home upset over conference-leading Air Force, cannot clinch an automatic bid into a bowl but would potentially be among the first selected if there are not enough FBS auto-qualifying programs at the end of the season, should Hawai’i win out. After looking dead in the water three weeks ago, Hawai’i has caught a second wind in the back half of the schedule to help cause chaos among the top of the Mountain West after last week’s win. 

Can UH enter a new player into the ‘Bowl Game’ rodeo against a Wyoming squad yet to lose a game at home? 

Tale of the Tape — Paniolo Trophy Showdown 

The last of the rivalry trophy games on Hawai’i’s 2023 slate, the ‘Bows and Pokes first duked it out for an actual trophy in 1979 and met annually until 1997 as both programs enjoyed membership in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) before reigniting the rivalry in 2013 within the Mountain West. 

Since the teams joined the MWC, Wyoming holds a slim 4-3 advantage in seven meetings. Neither program has been able to string together consecutive wins in the series since the move of conferences, trading possession of the hardware each contest. The Cowboys took last year’s meeting in Honolulu, 27-20, avenging a loss in Laramie the year before to the ‘Bows. 

The meeting in Laramie is the third time since 2020 that Hawai’i has had to travel to visit Wyoming, splitting the previous two games with a 31-7 loss in 2020 before getting revenge in a big way with a 38-14 win in 2021 to help secure a miracle bowl game berth at 6-7. 

It has been a trying season for both programs in separate ways as the Cowboys of Wyoming opened the year hot, looking like a true contender in the Mountain West before cooling off and fading into the middle of the pack. Hawai’i sits just one game back of UW in conference play after picking up consecutive wins in the past two weeks to vault themselves out of the basement of the Mountain West. Faced with a similar scene as ’21, the Rainbow Warriors go to higher elevation looking to avenge last year’s loss to the Cowboys while keeping potential bowl chances alive. 

Should Hawai’i continue trending in the same direction of the rest of this November, the holiday season could get even more fun to tie the series in MWC-play at four wins apiece between the programs and set up an exciting regular season-finale against Colorado State. 

Players to Watch, Extra StorylinesHawai’i @ Wyoming 

“Home, sweet home” holds a true meaning for Wyoming, standing with an unblemished 6-0 record in Laramie this year. Much like the ‘Bows, the road has been a place of struggles for the Pokes. Wyoming fell last week at UNLV, 34-14, continuing the winless ways on the road for the Cowboys. Returning home, Wyoming stands much tougher against opponents but provides another opportunity at a “first” for a team consistently racking up new experiences in Hawai’i. 

CB Cam Stone, who transferred into UH’s program this offseason after previously playing at Wyoming. An all-conference selection in the preseason, Stone has dealt with a variety of injuries throughout the year but was able to snag his first pick as a ‘Bow last week to cap off Hawai’i’s victory over Air Force. As part of a new defense that has seen a bevy of injuries force creativity from the staff, Stone and the rest of the Rainbow Warriors’ defense has looked like an improved unit over the eleventh month of the year. Should that trend continue against the nation’s 122nd-ranked offense from Wyoming, Stone may get an opportunity to make another impact play late for an upset against his old team.  

QB Brayden Schager sits less than 100 passing yards away from 6,000 career passing yards, which would make him just the seventh Hawai’i QB in program history to eclipse the 6,000-yard threshold. With just 53 yards in the air, Schager will move past 3,000 passing yards for the season and become the 13th entry of a 3,000-yard season from a UH QB as he continues his ascent into the Rainbow Warriors’ record books. Despite the team’s struggles, Schager leads the Mountain West in passing yards and passing touchdowns. 

Part of Schager’s development has been the emergence of WR Pofele Ashlock, who has racked up consecutive weeks with two TD receptions and has three multi-score games on the year as a redshirt freshman. In fact, he leads all FBS freshmen receivers with 726 receiving yards, 72 receptions and nine touchdowns. Week in and week out, the 6-foot-1 wideout finds space to break free and spark UH’s offense and will only improve as time goes on. The ‘Bows will need him to continue his elite play against a strong Wyoming secondary that ranks top 50 among FBS defenses in passing yards allowed per game. 

As the young Rainbow Warriors continue growing and learning how to win together, another tough test in Wyoming awaits. In a “Jekyll and Hyde” year for the UH football program, who will show up in Laramie? Have the ‘Bows finally turned the corner by “pushing the sled?” 

The game will be broadcast on Spectrum Sports PPV with kickoff scheduled for 9:00 a.m. HT on Saturday, November 18. 

Hawai’i upsets Air Force; 3 Takeaways from ‘Bows signature win of 2023

Hawai’i upsets Air Force; 3 Takeaways from ‘Bows signature win of 2023

Hawai’i upsets Air Force; 3 Takeaways from ‘Bows signature win of 2023

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED NOV 13, 2023

HONOLULU — We are back. 

Hawai’i (4-7, 2-4 MWC) stymied an elite Air Force rushing attack and forced four 4th quarter turnovers to steal the Kuter Trophy back from the Falcons Saturday, handing AFA its first conference loss of the year. The win comes on the heels of UH’s first road victory under Timmy Chang, giving the ‘Bows a winning streak for the first time under the former QB-turned-HC. 

Rainbow Warriors’ QB Brayden Schager finished an impressive 22-of-29 for 176 passing yards, adding a career-high 57 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush) to help pull off one of the biggest upsets in college football this season. Hawai’i entered the game as near-20-point underdogs (+19.5) before beating Air Force by two touchdowns. 

After a two-week hiatus, here are three takeaways for ‘Bows football fresh off the press following UH’s impressive 27-13 win over Air Force on Saturday. 


1. The lights have come on for Brayden Schager. 

The junior QB didn’t have his typical gaudy passing numbers — the 176 passing yards against Air Force is his third-lowest total this season — but one can argue that it was one of his best performances as a college QB. 

For weeks, Schager consistently threw the ball all over the yard to different receivers and put up eye-popping numbers that put the Texas-native among the nation’s top QBs in production, but the wins refused to follow. The ‘Bows struggled with protection and saw the 6-foot-3 gunslinger end up on his back in bunches after being forced to hold onto the ball and refusing to take off and run when plays broke down. 

Since the ‘Bows were embarrassed by San Jose State on “Homecoming”, spectators have seen a different Schager. In Week 10 at Nevada, the UH quarterback tied a career best with 49 yards rushing, picking up key yardage to move the chains while helping the ‘Bows snap a four-game losing streak. He followed that performance by setting a new career high against one of the nation’s toughest defenses in Air Force, running around for 57 yards and his 2nd career rushing TD. The arm talent has never been an issue for Schager, oozing potential everywhere. The development of consistent efficiency against quality defenses and adding the threat of the sturdy QB taking off makes Schager a player that could challenge for Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year status in 2024. 

While he may never be elite slinging the ball while being a runner at the same time, he has shown flashes that his legs could be unlocked more going forward. That’s excellent news for a Hawai’i program looking to get back into the meat of the competition in the Mountain West next season and one that continues to look at an outside chance at a bowl berth. 

2. The correct people are in place to lead UH’s program back to competence, competition, and coronations. 

Perhaps this will be read as an overreaction to a two-game win streak for a program that has looked lost at times during the season. It’s an understandable stance and not one to be ashamed of thinking. 

Instead, attention should be called to a noticeable difference in the Hawai’i team over the past two weeks. Since an embarrassing home loss to San Jose State, the first time the ‘Bows had been held scoreless on Oahu since 1998, Timmy Chang’s team has seemingly grown up fast. The coaches attribute much of the shift to the players taking on bigger leadership roles, holding one another accountable to the levels the program aspires to reach. 

“The best teams are player-led and it’s starting to get that way,” Chang said following UH’s win. “[The team’s] energy is unbelievable, and it’s been like that the last two weeks. There’s nothing different in scheme.” 

The player-led ‘Bows had their hottest start to a game this year in jumping out to a 7-0 lead after their first possession, a situation that had not happened all season for UH. After getting the lead, Hawai’i’s defense compounded the “good” with a stop of Air Force’s vaunted “triple-option” offense. 

“Shout out to our [defensive coordinator Jacob Yoro], he had a great game-plan for us and all we had to do was trust him and do our 111 and win our 1-on-1 battles,” said ‘Bows safety Peter Manuma of the inspired defensive effort. “It all came down to Coach Yoro and his game-plan and us just sticking and believing in it, trusting that he would put us in the right place.” 

The Rainbow Warriors defense, much picked on throughout the season, put together a masterpiece with four takeaways to help win the turnover battle for the second week in a row. After being among the nation’s worst programs in turnovers-to-takeaways, Hawai’i has turned the ball over just once in two weeks while taking it away six times (4 INT, 2 FF). 

It’s tough to remember the youth of the coaching staff that took over the Hawai’i program, especially when looking at the youth of the team and showing patience with player development. The past two weeks have been a testament to both players and coaches beginning to figure out winning consistently and winning tough at the FBS level. 

Patience.  

It’s a virtue, friends. 

3. Hawai’i has something for the future with Jalen Smith. 

After LB Logan Taylor went down with a torn ACL just four games into the year, a gaping hole was left in the Rainbow Warriors’ defense. For as good as senior Isaiah Tufaga is, he can’t cover the entire second level of the defense by himself. After losing his running mate, Tufaga had been forced to step into a bigger role while coaches cycled through the depth at the position to find a replacement for Taylor. 

Eventually, redshirt sophomore Jalen Smith got his opportunity to stake a claim for the job and the Bakersfield College transfer seized the role. Since UH’s loss at UNLV, Smith has been an impact player each weekend. In Taylor’s absence, the sophomore has racked up 55 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble this past weekend that Meki Pei scooped and returned for a touchdown. In other words, expect to see Smith’s name in the box score every game. 

That’s an excellent find for the coaching staff and good news for the ‘Bows in 2024, when Taylor returns but Tufaga’s spot will need to be filled as the former Saint Louis Crusaders’ alum graduates from UH. 

As the offense looks primed for a huge breakout next year, it’ll be vital for the UH defense to closely follow suit. Having the middle of the defense shored up and battled-tested ahead of time provides the ‘Bows a nice head start for the future.