|Matchup Preview | Sept. 12, Ohio Stadium, 3:30 p.m., BTN|
|Hawaii Rainbow Warriors|| Ohio State Buckeyes|
Five Fast Facts About Hawaii
1. Hawaii, which traveled close to 4,500 miles for the game, and Ohio State have never played one another on the gridiron.
2. The Rainbow Warriors have new coordinators on both sides of the ball in Don Bailey on offense and Tom Mason on defense. Bailey was at Idaho State last year, where he was named 2014 FCS Coordinator of the Year, while Mason was at SMU for the previous seven years and took over the team last year after the resignation of June Jones.
3. UH holds a 10-38 (.208) all-time record against nationally ranked teams, including a current five-game losing streak. Last week, the Rainbow Warriors broke a 19-game national TV losing streak as well with a 28-20 win vs. Colorado.
4. In a new gameday ritual started this year, the lead Rainbow Warrior out of the tunnel raises a recreation of a shark-tooth Polynesian war axe as he brings the team out.
5. The Rainbow Warriors are seeking their first 2-0 start since the 2009 season, when UH defeated Central Arkansas and Washington State in back-to-back home games.
OHIO STATE RUSH OFFENSE vs. HAWAII RUSH DEFENSE
This is where Ohio State should have its biggest advantage. The Buckeyes were one of the best rushing teams in the nation last year and showed no signs of slowing down against Virginia Tech, racking up 360 yards and 9.7 yards per rush against an aggressive, talented front. Hawai’i, on the other hand, gave up more than 200 yards per game a season ago and 215 more in the season opener vs. Colorado. This should be a chance for Ezekiel Elliott and the rest of the Ohio State rushing attack to have a good day. EDGE: OHIO STATE
HAWAII RUSH OFFENSE vs. OHIO STATE RUSH DEFENSE
Hawai’i didn’t have a run of 20 yards in its opener and had just 16 a year ago, showing the Rainbow Warriors aren’t a big play running game. Columbus native Paul Harris had 68 yards on 17 carries in the opener, numbers he’ll try to top in his home city but might be hard to come by when facing one of the top rush defenses in the nation. Quarterback Max Wittek isn’t a rushing threat and Ohio State should have an edge here. Virginia Tech had just 2.9 yards per carry in the opener and also didn’t have a carry top 20 yards. EDGE: OHIO STATE
OHIO STATE PASS OFFENSE vs. HAWAII PASS DEFENSE
Hawai’i had a solid pass defense a year ago, placing 35th in yards allowed and 22nd in pass efficiency defense, and the Rainbow Warriors return both starting corners, who could be up for All-MWC honors. Colorado posted a passing efficiency of just 85.3 in the opener, showing the Warriors could again be one of the better pass defenses around. Ohio State wasn’t efficient in its opener – Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett were just 10 of 19 combined – but the three touchdowns and the four passes of 24 yards or more showed big plays could again be a staple of the offense. EDGE: OHIO STATE
HAWAII PASS OFFENSE vs. OHIO STATE PASS DEFENSE
If Hawai’i has a star heading to Columbus, it’s Wittek, who was in the running for USC’s quarterback job until falling short and then heading to Manoa. His debut vs. Colorado was good and bad – he completed just 50.0 percent of his passes and had two picks but did throw for three touchdowns – and arm strength and talent aren’t a concern. Hawai’i also returns its two top receivers from a year ago in Marcus Kemp and Quinton Pedroza, who combined for 115 catches and 1,471 yards a season ago as well as two touchdowns in the opener. Virginia Tech threw for three touchdowns and utilized misdirection to fool OSU, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Rainbow Warriors can do the same. EDGE: EVEN
Hawai’i special teams is one reason the Rainbow Warriors were able to escape week one with a win, as the team blocked a punt, made both of its field goals and averaged 44.4 yards per punt. The kick coverage left something to be desired, but all in all the Rainbow Warriors had a solid showing. That came in stark comparison to Ohio State, which missed a field goal, had a kickoff out of bounds and had a turnover on a muffed punt in its opener. Ohio State’s return men will try to get something going, as well, and Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson will be welcomed back in that regard. EDGE: HAWAII
This is an interesting one because both teams could be pretty tired when they take the field in Columbus. The Buckeyes will have just four off days between games heading into the contest while Hawaii must travel 4,500 miles over two days to get to Columbus. With that in mind, it’s hard to lean one way or the other here, and both teams should come in confident after opening victories. EDGE: EVEN
Many thought Hawai’i would be the weakest team on the Buckeyes’ schedule this year, but there does appear to be some momentum in the program. The Rainbow Warriors won four games, the most in the Norm Chow era, last season and never trailed in their opening win vs. a Power Five foe in Colorado. Of course, the Buffaloes are one of the weakest Power Five teams in the nation, but a win is a win, and Hawai’i has to feel like it has some good pieces. Ohio State, meanwhile, will have to manage the short week but showed against Virginia Tech that the sky is the limit for its offense. That should happen again in the home opener. OHIO STATE 61-13
The staff pick is an average of predictions by staffers Kane Anderson, Ryan Ginn, James Grega, Tim Moody, Jeff Svoboda and Blake Williams