Hawaii eyes 3-0 vs. Pac-12 at No. 23 Washington

Field Level Media

September 11, 2019 at 12:01 am.

After his team’s latest victory, Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich tweeted out the logo for the Rose Bowl.

Indeed, if the Rainbow Warriors were members of the Pac-12, whose champion historically advances to the Rose Bowl, they’d be the front-runners for a New Year’s Day date in Pasadena, Calif.

In fact, they’d already be a game-and-a-half ahead of defending conference champion Washington. On Saturday, Hawaii gets to see just how well it stacks up against the Huskies, traveling to Seattle to face No. 23 Washington.

The Warriors (2-0) have opened their season with a pair of home victories against Pac-12 schools, defeating Arizona 45-38 in the season opener — stopping the Wildcats at the 1-yard line as time expired — then edging Oregon State 31-28 last weekend.

“I think we’ve got a really good team coming in here because it is completely unique,” Washington coach Chris Petersen told reporters of Hawaii this week. “That’s one of the things you don’t see — they are back to the run-and-shoot, which you don’t see a lot. You can say the same thing with what they are doing at (Washington State) … but you don’t see what they’re doing out there and they are good at it.

“(Rolovich) has gotten back to his roots, and they are good — the quarterback is good, and he’s got a great sense of timing. We’ve watched a bunch of them on tape and they are legitimately good.”

How good?

Wide receiver JoJo Ward made 10 receptions for 189 yards and four touchdowns against Oregon State to earn Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Teammate and fellow wideout Cedric Byrd II received that same award after the season opener, in which he had 14 catches for 224 yards and four scores.

“They have to defend four wide receivers that make adjustments on the run and that have trust in each other and have an unselfishness that makes the offense go,” said Rolovich, also referring to wideouts Jared Smart and Jason-Matthew Sharsh.

Quarterback Cole McDonald is fourth nationally with 399.5 yards per game passing, which could pose a problem for Washington’s young secondary.

And Hawaii is one of only three teams nationally with two wins over Power 5 teams this season, along with No. 1 Clemson and North Carolina.

The Huskies (1-1) saw their 15-game home winning streak snapped last weekend in their Pac-12 opener with a 20-19 loss to California on a field goal with seven seconds remaining. The game featured a weather delay of more than two-and-a-half hours because of lightning strikes in the Seattle area and didn’t end until nearly 1:30 a.m. Pacific.

Salvon Ahmed rushed for a career-high 119 yards for the Huskies, and Jacob Eason completed 18 of 30 passes for 162 yards and an interception.

Peyton Henry kicked four field goals, including a career-long 49-yarder with 2:05 remaining that put Washington ahead 19-17.

But the Golden Bears drove 74 yards in nine plays down to the Washington 1-yard line before sending on senior kicker Greg Thomas for the winner.

“They really played well on tape, and then there’s a handful of things that you’d just love to have back,” Petersen said. “That’s the game, though. That’s why we’re still a work in progress.”