The Colorado State Rams travel to Halawa, Hawaii to take on the Rainbow Warriors in CSU’s first Mountain West game of the 2017 season.
Though this beautiful destination is a popular vacation spot, currently listed as seven-point favorites, the Rams will need to approach the game with anything but a relaxed mindset to avoid being upset by the Rainbow Warriors. Playing on the road always presents a challenge. However, playing in Hawaii with a 10 p.m. MT kickoff is particularly tricky, which is what makes CSU’s upcoming matchup a trap game.
For one, the time difference will be a brutal adjustment for the Rams. The Rainbow Warriors operate four hours behind what the CSU players are used to in the Mountain time zone. To put this in perspective, four of CSU’s five road games this season are in places that operate in the same time zone as Colorado.
In addition to adjusting to the time change, CSU will also have to deal with being jet-lagged after a five to six hour flight. Travel and time will absolutely be obstacles the Rams will have to overcome if they want to come out on top against the Rainbow Warriors.
“Obviously you have a long flight and a time change,” head coach Mike Bobo said. “And we play at basically 10 o’clock mountain time on Saturday. All of those are issues.”
It’s also worth noting the high amount of distractions that come with playing a game on the island, compared to places like New Mexico or Wyoming. Though Halawa is a little over seven miles from Honolulu, there are still plenty of beaches and tourist spots in the Rainbow Warriors’ home.
CSU players will obviously be tempted to put on their floral shirts and sip Mai Tai’s on Thursday and Friday night. Doing so would be playing right into the Rainbow Warriors’ hand though.
Putting the time difference, long travel, and tropical distractions aside, it is not as if Hawaii should be overlooked to begin with. Although Hawaii has lost two consecutive games to fall to 2-2, the Rainbow Warriors’ offense makes them a threat to all Mountain West foes.
Through four games this season, Hawaii has already compiled 1,922 yards offensively, a total that is good for 22nd best in the FBS. They also were also very close to pulling out an overtime victory against Wyoming last week. The Cowboys won 28-21 in the extra period.
“We’ve got a tough task this week as we travel on the road to play a really good football team,” Bobo said. “I think everybody watched the game against Wyoming on Friday night. I saw a team that played extremely hard, was able to move the ball offensively, and played extremely well on defense. Wyoming just made a few more plays than they did. But you turn on the tape and the tape doesn’t lie. This is going to be a tough challenge for our football team.”
Individually, the Rainbow Warriors also have a number of playmakers who are capable of taking over any game. Hawaii’s starting running back, Diocemy Saint Juste, has rushed for at least 120 yards in three consecutive games. Overall, the senior has already gathered 554 yards on the ground, the fourth most in the FBS.
The Rainbow Warriors also have a legitimate quarterback-wide receiver combination in the form of Dru Brown and John Ursua. Though Brown can be a little erratic, which is evident when realizing he has already thrown six interceptions this season, he has also already thrown over 1000 yards this season. Brown has thrown the 25th most passing yards in the country so far with 1052. A big chunk of those yards have been caught by Ursua, who is ninth in the FBS in receiving yards with 453.
“Offensively, they have a quarterback (Brown) that can make plays with his legs, that can make plays with his arm,” Bobo said. “They have a receiver (Ursua) that has a knack to make plays. He catches the ball in space, he’s a great slot. He reminds me a lot of the slots that are playing at the next level. They have a running back (Saint Juste) that is hard to tackle and has great breakaway speed.”
Given that CSU has dominated Hawaii recently, the Rams need to take into account the fact that the Rainbow Warriors will have a chip on their shoulders heading into this game. CSU holds a six-game win streak over Hawaii and leads the all-time series over the Rainbow Warriors 14-9. In fact, the last time Hawaii defeated the Rams was in 1992.
Despite their recent struggles against CSU, it’s evident that Hawaii is a team that should not be overlooked; especially at home where the Rainbow Warriors have gone 70-37 at home since 2002, including five bowl games played in Honolulu. In the same time period, Hawaii is 29-56 on the road, including a bowl game played at a neutral site.
This may be a trap game, but, that doesn’t mean the Rams will get trapped. Frankly, CSU is better than Hawaii, which is why they are favored. If the Rams take the Rainbow Warriors seriously and don’t let any distractions get in the way, there is no excuse for losing this game.
“At the end of the day, we need to focus on what we are doing this week, get a good plan together, and go out there and put our best foot forward,” Bobo said.
Collegian sports reporter Eddie Herz can be reached by email at email@example.com or Twitter @Eddie_Herz.