San Diego State Aztecs (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (3-4 SU, 1-5-1 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date/Time: Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 11:15PM ET
Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
TV: ESPN 2
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SDSU -9.5/HAW +9.5
Over/Under Total: 59.5
In the late game on Saturday in college football week 9 action, the San Diego State Aztecs come to Aloha Stadium to take on the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. The Aztecs are 6-2, but have dropped two straight games. After a 6-0 start where they got ranked, the wheels have come off and last week, they were roughed up at home by Fresno State, 27-3. They now have to pick up and go on a long road trip to face a Hawaii team that is coming off a win over San Jose State, which was followed by an off-week. Who can get it done in Honolulu this week?
For those who have followed the Aztecs over the years, some may have suspected the Aztecs would be facing a coming-down-to-earth period at some point. Still, after looking so good through six games, to lose twice in a row at home in lopsided fashion to conference teams is quite the letdown. Against Boise and Fresno is consecutive weeks at home, they have lost by a combined score of 58-17. They didnt even come close. There are bad developments on both sides of the ball. And while Hawaii might be an opponent against whom they can get well again, a long road trip on the heels of two letdown weeks at home doesnt paint the most-favorable image, either.
The offense languishing for the Aztecs the last two weeks is a big part of the equation. At the same time, key players on this offense didnt just suddenly decide to stop playing well. A lot of what is happening can be attributed to the poor blocking of the offensive line, both in keeping QB Christian Chapman protected and in opening holes for the robust Aztecs run-game. The San Diego St. ground-attack is led by Rashard Penny, along with his 1115 yards and 10 TD runs, with another two aerially. He gets a big assist on the ground from back Juwan Washington, who has 400 yards. And while Mikah Holder can make things happen as a receiver, this offense is very run-heavy. Its just that in the last few weeks, the line looks like a different unit and they better get things figured out quick. An Aztecs team without their ground-attack is a pretty bad team otherwise.
For as well as they run the ball, the Aztecs have looked pretty bad in defending the run the last two weeks. First, a Boise State team that wasnt running the ball well did so against the Aztecs, before Fresno did the same thing last week. Against a Hawaii team that can run the ball, that stands out as a possible matchup issue this week on the road. Other than a good showing against UNLV several weeks ago, weve seen this group regress over the past month. And their pass-rushing acumen and ability to make big plays has slipped recently. They need guys like LB Jay Henderson to step up, along with Noble Hall, and get the pass-rush back on the right track, while the beef up-front needs to better in stopping the run.
Hawaii started the season 2-0, before dropping four straight, leading up to their home win over San Jose State two weeks ago. It was their first win over a FBS team at home this season and they are nice and dug in at home, coming off a win and a bye and ready to score a big win. In their only other game at home against a good conference team, they were hammered 51-21 by Colorado State. They hope for better this week.
Hawaiis offense is a little different this season, as we dont usually see them rely on a run game. Diocemy Saint Juste has 1094 yards on the ground with 7 touchdowns, getting a big assist on the ground from Ryan Tuiasoa, who has added five touchdowns. QB Dru Brown has 13 touchdowns, connecting well with John Ursua, who has 667 yards and Dylan Collie and big-body receiver Ammon Barker. The problem is that Ursua has been lost for the season after a knee injury before the off-week. They are putting up a respectable 29 points per game. Still, they have thrived against bad teams, while their more-capable opponents have kept this group in-check. And losing their top aerial weapon is a major concern heading into this game.
The Hawaii defense is a major roadblock to success. Against offenses that have anything on the ball, they are pretty bad. One upside is that the weakest part of their defense is against the pass. They cant cover and the big plays made on the secondary are minimal. But San Diego States bread-and-butter is the run-game, an area where Hawaii suffers, just not as bad as against the pass. Against the version of the Aztecs we saw the last two weeks, this is a defense that could hold their own. If the Aztecs are back on-target, however, the Rainbow Warriors D will have their hands full and then some.
The Aztecs are in some trouble and have gone from a conference frontrunner to looking like a bad Mountain West team in the span of just a few weeks. There seems to be a disconnect going on with everything having soured so dramatically. They could find the going easier this week against the exploitable Hawaii defense, but its just really hard to take them in their current manifestation as nearly double-digit dogs on this long road trip. I see a close game on Saturday. Im taking the home team.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors plus 9.5 points. – Move the line on this game up to 20 points by inserting it into a 20 point football teaser at the web’s best sportsbook: 5dimes!