POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Mar 22, 2011
You don't suppose it really was, as officials maintain, a coincidence that on the day the Western Athletic Conference revealed its 2011 football schedule, the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl also trumpeted the date and time of its game, do you?
Because if there is a schedule that has postseason written in neon, this would seem to be it.
None of this by-the-skin-of-their-teeth stuff, either. The Warriors need to win seven of their 13 regular-season games to become bowl eligible, but it would be hard to imagine there will be much drama in reaching their “magic number” for the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl this year.
It is a schedule with abuser-friendly potential based upon last year, when the Football Bowl Subdivision portion of the lineup struggled to a collective 64-88 record. There were more teams (3) with double-digit losses than double-figure wins (1).
With bedeviling Boise State off the schedule and no guaranteed top-20 teams likely to be jumping out from it, the Warriors can take hopeful and realistic aim at what would be only their second set of back-to-back, double-digit-win seasons.
Only in 2006 (11-3) and ’07 (12-1) did the Warriors double up. But coming off a 10-4 season in 2010 and this schedule, the possibilities are intriguing. Especially since the Warriors have Boise State right where they want it — in another league, the Mountain West. Of course, they figure to meet up again in 2012, when UH joins the MWC. But for one last go-around, here’s a chance to really take advantage of all the WAC has to offer.
The Warriors will be the only team in the new eight-member WAC to return a season-long starting quarterback, and they figure to have the best, most proven one, Bryant Moniz.
Which will also be something none of its first three opponents, Colorado, Washington or Nevada-Las Vegas, can say, and will make for a powerful offense if the refurbished line and receiver corps are up to the task.
If UH negotiates the early challenge of consecutive games against Pac-12 teams Colorado and Washington and doesn't stumble in its most distant road game, at Louisiana Tech (Oct.1), it could make for a memorable stretch run, with Nevada, Fresno State and Brigham Young figuring in three of the final four games.
The WAC did UH a favor by giving the Warriors an open date Oct. 8, breaking up what would have otherwise been back-to-back conference road games in consecutive weeks and four contests on the mainland in five weeks.
The one drawback to UH’s schedule is that three of its WAC opponents (Idaho, Nevada and Utah State) will have open dates the week before they play the Warriors. But if you want to talk scheduling horrors, give Nevada a call. Or just listen for the shrieks from Reno. The team that shared the WAC title with UH and Boise State last year and has lost its marquee stars has its open date the first week of the season (Sept. 3) and then plays four consecutive road games, three of them at potential top-20 opponents, Oregon, Texas Tech and Boise State, sandwiched around a conference road contest at San Jose State.
Fresno State, meanwhile, will play UH as the back half of a road-game combo that begins with New Mexico State.
All in all, success should be right on schedule for the Warriors in 2011.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.