Hawaii and Utah State both are atop a number of key statistical categories in the Western Athletic Conference entering Saturday night’s matchup at Aloha Stadium. For the Aggies, however, it hasn’t translated into success on the field.
Utah State leads the WAC in scoring, rushing, total defense and pass defense. But the Aggies (2-5, 0-2) are winless in the WAC and have struggled to pick up wins. Their five losses have come by a combined 25 points, including a 42-38 loss to open the season at Auburn and a 3-point loss at BYU.
The Warriors (5-3, 3-1) are tied for second in the conference behind Nevada. They lead the WAC in passing (329.2 yards), scoring defense (26.6 points) and sacks (27).
“I think it is going to be a big test because you can throw away (Utah State’s) record,” Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said. “In the WAC, either Hawaii or Utah State is leading every category. They’re a very well-coached and a very good team.”
The Warriors know they can’t afford to take any team for granted. Earlier in the year, Hawaii was blown out at UNLV in a game the Warriors were favored to win by three touchdowns. Last week, Hawaii kicked a game-winning field goal with 32 seconds left to beat one-win Idaho 16-14.
But Hawaii plays much better at home, where it has won its last seven WAC home games dating to 2009 and scored an average of 50.3 points in three wins this season. And the Warriors have won five of six against the Aggies, including a 45-7 win last year in Logan.
The Warriors are led by quarterback Bryant Moniz, who needs 81 passing yards to become the third quarterback in school history to surpass 10,000 career yards. He currently has 9,919 yards in 32 career games.
Moniz leads the conference in passing (310.4 yards) and total offense (338.4). He has played well against the Aggies, passing for 726 yards and four TDs in two career games.
“We all know what kind of quarterback they have and the offense they have. They are very effective,” Aggies coach Gary Anderson said.
Warriors linebacker Aaron Brown is fifth in the conference with 8.9 tackles per game, with teammate Art Laurel ranking second with seven sacks.
They’ll try to slow down Aggies running back Robert Turbin, who ranks second in the WAC with 117.9 rushing yards per game and is first in scoring with 12.0 points per contest.
McMackin said he predicts Turbin will be selected in one of the higher rounds of the NFL draft.
Utah State, which had a bye last week, is winless in three road games this season.
“Hawaii is a quality opponent, one of the premier teams in this league and has been for a long time and that hasn’t changed this year,” Anderson said. “Great test for us, great opportunity to go over to their place and play a football game.”