With Week 0 of College Football starting Saturday, Jason Radowitz shares his best bet for the Arizona/ Hawaii match-up.
Woah. College football is right around the corner! Week 0 starts this Saturday with a two-game slate on August 24th. The Arizona Wildcats will travel to Hawaii to face the Rainbow Warriors in the second college football game of the season. It’s thought that when teams travel to Hawaii, they lose focus and don’t play up to their actual ability. This will be a true test for Arizona in their first game of the season.
Hawaii has covered the spread in six of their last 29 outings at home. That’s 20 percent in their last 35 games at home. Hawaii usually gets a little boost on the spread when they’re the home team. With Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate healthy, Arizona is looking to become at least a .500 football club. Arizona has covered the spread in their last five games in August.
Head Coach Kevin Sumlin will begin his second year as head coach for Arizona after a semi-disappointing first season from a Wildcats team that featured 14 returners. The Pac-12 has beefed up this season with Washington, Oregon, Stanford, and Washington State coming in with high expectations. If Arizona wants to reach a bowl game this season, they’ll have to win their first couple of non-conference games, like this one.
Last season, Arizona lost four of their last five road games. Offensively, the Wildcats will bring back seven starters with an offense that averaged 31.3 points a game along with 457 yards per game. Nobody knows what to expect from Khalil Tate, except that expectations are higher this go-around. He was a Heisman candidate last season. Tate scored 26 touchdowns in 2017. With his health in check, Tate should produce his 2017 numbers (and potentially more.) Defensively, Arizona was a nightmare. I said on offense, Arizona averaged 31 points a game but defensively they allowed 32.6 points per game. If Arizona wants any shot at winning football games, their defense will have to step up. They will be returning eight starters from last season (four of it’s top-five tacklers from last year.) Expectations are also higher for the defense with multiple guys returning. They should be getting better, including Colin Schooler who had 21.5 tackles for loss last season.
Hawaii is coming in hot this season after winning eight games for the first time since 2010. Hawaii has won five of their last seven at home, but quite frankly, their opponents in those seven games weren’t anything special. None were from a Power 5 conference. Hawaii will return a bunch of starters offensively including Cole McDonald at quarterback. McDonald led Hawaii to 30.8 points per game with 420 yards on offense. Personally, he achieved 3,900 yards passing and 36 touchdowns. Nobody talks about Cole McDonald, but he’s an absolute stud. His two favorite receivers in Cedric Byrd and JoJo Ward are also returning after combining for 18 touchdowns (50 %). Hawaii will also return nine starters on the defense that allowed 35 points per game with 440 yards per game.
Arizona underachieved in Kevin Sumlin’s first season as head coach for the Arizona Wildcats. Tate will need to become more of a mobile quarterback if he wants to see his success return. It seemed Arizona put Tate into a box and wouldn’t let him be himself (or really give him an opportunity to succeed.)
Hawaii’s Cole McDonald enters this season as one of the top quarterbacks that isn’t talked about. McDonald figures to be able to match whatever Khalil Tate does offensively. Hawaii won three games where they were double-digit underdogs.
This season, Khalil Tate will hit the reset button and get back to his old self. 2018 was ugly but it included an injury. Tate is coming in with a positive mindset and he’s ready to put 2018 behind him. Arizona is 5-0 against Hawaii with their last win against Hawaii in Tucson by the score of 47-28. The over/under for this game is set at 74. The score should read something like that on August 24th. I like Arizona against the spread in a match-up of two high powered offenses. Arizona ranked 92nd in total defense with Hawaii ranked at 100. Arizona though, played defense against some tough offenses in the Pac-12. Hawaii’s schedule wasn’t nearly as good.
Arizona -11 -110 @FanDuel