Tulane (2-10) at Hawaii (5-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 26th, 11:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aloha Stadium (50,000) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: Oceanic PPV. Home Record: Tulane 1-5, Hawaii 3-2. Away Record: Tulane 1-5, Hawaii 2-4. Neutral Record: Tulane 0-0, Hawaii 0-0. Conference Record: Tulane 1-7, Hawaii 3-4. Series Record: Hawaii leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: Needing to win out in order to become bowl eligible, the Hawaii Warriors try to take a step in the right direction on Saturday as they host the Tulane Green Wave in non-conference action at Aloha Stadium.
Hawaii, now done with the Western Athletic Conference schedule, finished league play with a mark of just 3-4 and is currently riding a three-game slide following a 24-21 loss to Fresno State at home last weekend. The Warriors not only need to beat Tulane this weekend, they also have to defeat the BYU Cougars on December 3 in the regular-season finale in order to even reach the required win total for postseason invites.
As for the Green Wave, this is the team's season swan song under interim head coach Mark Hutson. Unfortunately for Tulane, the team has not registered a non-conference road win in more than a year so to expect something different this time around would be asking a lot. Last week the team put up a tough fight but still fell to Rice by a final of 19-7. If nothing else it was a step in the right direction, given that Tulane gave up 73 points to nationally- ranked Houston nine days earlier.
The Warriors have a record of 2-1 versus the Green Wave, the most recent meeting taking place back on Christmas in 2002 in the Hawaii Bowl with the visitors capturing a 36-28 win.
Last week versus Rice, Ryan Griffin threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Rush five minutes into the fourth quarter, the score cutting the deficit to just six points before the defense turned around and gave that touchdown back. Griffin finished the meeting 19-of-39 for just 163 yards and tossed an interception, while Orleans Darkwa led the ground attack with 78 yards on 19 carries. Outside of the wins against Southeastern Louisiana and UAB when the Green Wave tallied a combined 96 points, scoring has been tough to come by for Tulane in 2011. Four times the team has been held to single digits and because of that the squad is averaging just 20.9 ppg which is ninth in the conference and 105th in the nation entering play this week.
A little more than a week after giving up an ungodly 735 yards and 73 points to Case Keenum and the Houston Cougars, the Green Wave regrouped and held Rice to just 19 points but still couldn't get back into the win column. The Owls controlled the ball for more than 31 minutes, yet just 4-of-14 on third downs meant drives were stopping prematurely against a stiffer Tulane group. In fact, Rice was limited to only 237 yards of total offense which was the second-best effort of the season for the Green Wave behind the 193 yards allowed to the Blazers. Unfortunately, except for the meetings with Rice and UAB, Tulane opponents have all scored at least 31 points this season and that's why the scoring defense is permitting 37.7 ppg, last in Conference USA and 115th in the nation.
With Bryant Moniz out of action for the rest of the season due to injury, the Warriors now have to figure out what their best option is at quarterback moving forward. Last week the team turned to Shane Austin, but he hit just 6- of-13 passes for a mere 45 yards which is a huge drop-off given the type of offense run by Hawaii. Later against Fresno State, David Graves stepped in and converted 13-of-27 for 199 yards and a couple of TDs, but by then it was too late. Because of his performance last week, Graves has been bumped to the top of the depth chart which has to make receivers Billy Ray Stutzmann, Jeremiah Ostrowski and Royce Pollard happy because they're the ones suffering the most in the absence of Moniz. Stutzmann leads the team with 66 catches for 773 yards, but Pollard is the one who has a team-best 884 yards and eight touchdowns thus far.
Not usually taken advantage of by mainlanders, the Warriors were caught off guard by Fresno State on Saturday when the Bulldogs opened to a 17-0 lead. The run defense for Hawaii was gashed by FSU's Robbie Rouse who gained 176 yards and scored once on 37 carries. The pass defense also made Derek Carr look a lot like his brother, David, as the signal-caller threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns. The biggest problem for the Hawaii defense was that it couldn't get off the field, left to play more than 38 minutes on the night. The pass defense has taken the most hits this year, permitting 247.2 ypg which is fourth-most in the Western Athletic Conference and 88th in the country right now. With a team-best three interceptions, returned for a combined 150 yards, Richard Torres is trying to prevent opposing quarterbacks from getting too comfortable with their down-field throws.
Had Moniz been active for this game the Green Wave would not have stood a chance, but with the change at quarterback Hawaii just won't win by as big of a margin this time.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hawaii 28, Tulane 13
11/23 17:05:21 ET