Going into the Sugar Bowl, Hawaii’s biggest question comes from its weak schedule. It’s hard to judge the quality of a team when its overall opposition is as undemanding as the Warriors’ has been this year.
What I thought I’d do to get a better grasp of the level of Hawaii’s mettle is to look at how the school performed against BCS conference competition over the last three years (the years that Colt Brennan has been the starter). Here’s the list:
- 2007: Washington (H)
- 2006: Alabama (R); Purdue (H); Oregon State (H); Arizona State (N)
- 2005: Southern Cal (H); Michigan State (R); Wisconsin (H)
I don’t know about you, but I was surprised to find that Hawaii was able to schedule five home games against BCS conference opponents and only play two road games against the same caliber of schools during this time. The Warriors compiled a 3-5 record in these games.
Looking at a breakdown of some of the offensive and defensive stats from these games, here are a few items that emerge:
- Hawaii was outscored by an average of about nine points per game. It was held under 20 points three times (all losses). Hawaii’s defense held these schools under thirty points on three occasions and won two of the three games.
- Win, lose or draw, Colt and his receivers are going to get their passing yards. Hawaii averaged over 400 yards per game passing against these eight schools. Its worst showing was 236 yards passing in a game at Michigan State.
- As we already suspected, running isn’t that important to Hawaii’s success. The average running yardage in these games was under 100. There were four games in which Hawaii rushed for over 100 yards; its record in those games is 2-2.
- Despite a losing record in these eight games, Hawaii on average outgained its competition by more than 70 yards per game.
- On average, offenses playing Hawaii throw for about 75 yards per game more than they get on the ground. The Warriors held only two of these eight teams to less than 100 yards rushing (Purdue and Oregon State), but only managed to win one of the games.
If you take Hawaii’s averages in these games and compare them to the national ’07 stats here’s how it would rank, along with the nearest BCS conference team to that ranking:
- Scoring: 27.75, 62nd nationally (Connecticut)
- Defensive points: 36.63, 110th nationally (Minnesota)
- Total offense: 498.63 ypg, 5th nationally (Missouri)
- Total defense: 427.13 ypg, 94th nationally (Duke)
Overall, these are respectable numbers. Hawaii is going to move the ball. It’s also going to give up its fair share of yards and points on the other side. Honestly, if I had to compare them to an SEC team, I’d think of Kentucky.
The stats show this team is credible enough to give Georgia a good fight next Tuesday. The Dawgs had best be on their toes when they play.