The Arizona Wildcats travel to Honolulu to face the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors in a season opening matchup. This game will be played on opening night and has a time slot all to itself, sure to draw a national crowd. Will one of these teams prove to be championship caliber or both fall into the sands of time?
The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors expect improvement to last year’s 8-6 record. This is likely to occur with the return of 17 starters, 8 on offense, 9 on defense. The quarterback, Cole McDonald, returns with his top receiving threat on an offense that finished last season 9th in the country in passing yards per game. The biggest weakness of this offense has been the running game (109.6 ypg) but returns four offensive lineman which should open up holes for the backs and relieve some of the pressure from the passing game. The defense will need a big turnaround as they finished last season ranked lower than 100 in 3 of the 4 major statistical defensive categories. Luckily, the Rainbow Warriors have some senior leadership and return almost every starter from last season. The experience on that side of the ball will help and these Warriors will be too proud to just lay down.
The Arizona Wildcats come in hoping for a turnaround in year 2 under Coach Kevin Sumlin. With star quarterback Khalil Tate, the offense looks to be primed for a breakout year. Not only do most teams make the biggest jump from year 1 to year 2 in a new system but the Wildcats also return 8 starters on offense. The offense wasn’t terrible last year (31.3 ppg) and has the potential to be much better this year. Regardless of how strong the offense is, it can only carry you so far if the defense struggles as much as it did last season. Arizona finished last place in pass defense for the PAC-12 last season and was one of the worst teams defending the pass in the nation! This team is too talented to struggle this much defensively on an annual basis so, expect them to play better this year.
The game should provide plenty of fireworks and be a nice encore to the defensive slugfest that the Florida-Miami game looks to be shaping up as. Expect the Arizona Wildcats from the PAC-12 to be far superior to the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors from the Mountain West. The talent level that each of these schools recruit at are not close and it will show on the field. With both teams fielding struggling defenses, expect plenty of points. The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 45-26 Arizona Wildcat victory. Until next time, good luck.