Air Force vs. Hawaii prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Saturday afternoon’s matchup between the Falcons and Rainbow Warriors.
When: Saturday, Oct. 22 – 2:00 p.m. ET
Where: Falcon Stadium, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Air Force (4-2) started off hot with four wins out of the gate, including one against rival Navy, but its last two contests have been anything but encouraging. The Falcons went on the road two weeks ago and fell to Wyoming, 35-26. And last week, they went toe-to-toe with New Mexico in a neutral site game and lost, 45-40. This matchup with Hawaii will set up Air Force for yet another two-game road stretch.
The other side of the field will see the Rainbow Warriors (3-4) look to bounce back from its fourth loss of the season. Hawaii had won back-to-back games against Nevada at home and against San Jose State on the road, but it fell to UNLV last week in Honolulu, 41-38. Nick Rolovich’s Rainbow Warriors will alternate home and away games each week throughout the rest of the season.
The Falcons have controlled the all-time series, 13-6-1, and they’ve taken the last two meetings, including last year’s 58-7 win in Honolulu. The last time Hawaii won was at home in 2001, when it beat Air Force, 52-30.
What To Know About Air Force
Through the air, Nate Romine did what he needed to last time out. He completed 12-of-24 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with Rona Cleveland and Jalen Robinette for those scores. The latter led the team with seven catches for 182 yards, and the former ended with just the one 20-yard touchdown grab.
On the ground, though, Romine wasn’t as efficient with 15 yards on 13 carries, though he did score a touchdown on a one-yard run with two minutes left in the first half. The real damage in the running game came from Jacobi Owens, who took 10 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown.
What to Know About Hawaii
Dru Brown had a similar game for the Rainbow Warriors as Romine did for Air Force. Brown landed 17-of-32 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. While Marcus Kemp led Hawaii with six catches for 126 yards, but it was Diocemy Saint Juste and Dakota Torres who were on the receiving end of Brown’s scoring throws. They combined for three receptions and 24 yards.
Saint Juste failed to get into the end zone with his 10 carries, though. He rushed for 81 yards while Brown ran for 32 yards on eight carries. The heavy hitter in the rushing attack was Paul Harris. He found his way across the plane en route to 94 rushing yards. And Steven Lakalaka tacked on two one-yard-touchdown runs with 25 rushing yards.
Offense: Hawaii – Brown can match Romine both in the air and with his legs, but the combination of Saint Juste, Harris and Lakalaka is too much.
Defense: Air Force – The Falcons are No. 25 in the nation in total defense, allowing 341.7 yards per game. They’re also giving up 24.8 points per game to Hawaii’s 38.9 points per game.
Special Teams: Hawaii – Rigoberto Sanchez has yet to miss a kick and has totaled 45 points. Plus, Harris has already racked up 392 kick return yards on 17 returns.
Coaching: Air Force – It’s Troy Calhoun’s experience that gives the edge to the Falcons.
Matchup To Watch
Hawaii running game vs. Air Force run defense
The Falcons have been stingy on defense this year, and they have some talented guys on that side of the ball. But the Rainbow Warriors can break the game open with some big runs. If they can find a 20-yard gain here or a 30-yard run there, they’ll be able to keep Romine and Owens off the field and control the time of possession. Conversely, if Air Force can slow them down and keep Brown from moving the chains with his legs, it’ll throw the Hawaii offense out of whack.
Spread: Air Force -17
Air Force vs. Hawaii Prediction
The Falcons are favored, so count this as an upset pick right here. That Air Force defense is stout, but it feels like the Rainbow Warriors are going to figure out a way to gash it. There are simply too many bodies in the backfield for Hawaii. Lakalaka will find the end zone again. But Saint Juste will have more yards and barely fall short of 100 rushing yards. Romine and Owens will keep Air Force in the game, but a late rushing touchdown from Brown will seal the win for Hawaii.
Air Force vs. Hawaii Score Prediction: Hawaii 31, Air Force 28