A win over the Warriors would all but secure the program's first invite since 1990.
The Spartans are 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the WAC, coming off a last-second 23-20 loss to Boise State. They are playing, to some, the best team in the conference right now in Hawaii. Hawaii has won seven straight and posted 61 or more points in four of its past five games.
Also, playing at Hawaii has long been known as one of the toughest road trips in college football, for obvious reasons, including the extreme time change and the beaches. San Jose State coach Dick Tomey certainly knows all about that, as he coached Hawaii for 10 seasons from 1977-86.
"When I coached in Hawaii, people used to get all traumatized about the trip, and ask me 'What's the best way to make the trip to Hawaii? What's the best way to come?' And I would always say, 'With a good team.' We are going with a good team, and we have a chance to win," Tomey said. "The trip has nothing to do with it. If we think it does, then it will, but we are going over there on Friday. People go there so early. I think that's crazy. We are going on Friday. It is a lot easier of a trip than going to Louisiana Tech, or going to New Mexico State, or going to Idaho, because you have one flight and you're down, and you're there before noon, and you have a day and a half to get ready. We are going to be fine."
"The hard thing about it, is their team, because their team is really good, and they are much better on defense (than they have been in the past). Maybe this is the best defensive team that they have had in a long time. It's not the trip. It's not the environment. It's not the beach, and all that. Our guys have seen beaches. It's the team that we are playing. That's the problem."
After playing Boise State through the last play last Saturday, an upset win at Hawaii would legitimize San Jose State among the top-tier teams in the conference.
"Hawaii is a good team, maybe better than any team that we have faced," San Jose State guard Marcel Burrough said. "Everyone's excited. We want to get back on track. We want to get more victories. We are still playing for a bowl game. We have that determination, and we know that we want it (a bowl berth), so we have to keep working hard for it."
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: If San Jose State can't figure out some magical formula that has stymied every other defensive coach on the planet the last two months, the offense has two options: try to ball control and dominate the time of possession or just get into an old-fashion shoot out and hope for a turnover or two the other way.
The running game could have some success against a beat up Hawaii defensive front, but QB Adam Tafralis has shown the decision-making to perhaps throw 40-45 passes come Saturday.
"I thought Adam played his best game (against Boise State)," San Jose State coach Dick Tomey said. "He made great decisions with the ball, except (one play) in the first quarter, and he was tough and physical. He hasn't had a turnover in three weeks. If you have a quarterback that hasn't had a turnover in three weeks and is hitting 68 percent of his passes, he's doing a good job."
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defense is in for the toughest assignment of their careers as Hawaii has scored 61 or more points four of the last five games.
"Playing defensive back, you love to play against a team that passes a lot," San Jose State S Rakine Toomes said. "We know that Hawaii passes (most of the time.) It's like seven-on-seven for us. Just go out there and show what we got. Cover down, and hopefully get some interceptions."
"It's impressive for a quarterback to throw for that many yards and that many touchdowns, and spread the ball around to that many wide outs, because they have some pretty good wide outs over there. To pass the ball around like that and get everybody involved is impressive, but we have our own goals in mind, and we'll try to stay focused on that."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have 18 days of our regular season remaining (through the December 2 home game with Fresno State). We are trying to have a winning season. We are trying to go to a bowl game. We need to play great for 18 days, to give our guys a chance to have more of a season, and to maximize what we have done for the last year. You work for a year, and now you have 18 days. The life of this football team is 18 days. We are trying to prolong it into December, and beyond. We have to be able to get ourselves going for that period of time." -- San Jose State coach Dick Tomey at his Monday, Nov. 13 press conference.
THIS WEEK'S GAME: San Jose State at Hawaii, Nov. 18 -- The most-anticipated conference game of the weekend, Hawaii hosts San Jose State in a game that could clinch second-place in WAC for the Warriors.
Hawaii is 6-1, with this being its final conference game, while San Jose State is 3-2 in the WAC and 6-3 overall.
While this one has the potential to mirror last year's game, a 45-38 Hawaii win, the Warriors are really rolling right now and, after losing to Boise State as time expired last week, San Jose State could be prime for an emotional letdown.
The game also marks a homecoming for San Jose State Dick Tomey who coached in Honolulu from 1977-86 and won a still-standing school-record 63 games with Hawaii.
"Every game is tough. It doesn't matter who they are and what they do," Hawaii coach June Jones said. "You need to be ready to play for every game. We've been ready to play. This week should be no different. It's going to be an emotional game with Dick (Tomey) coming back. Dick gave me my first coaching job after I finished playing and I am thankful for that. I got to know him pretty well during the off seasons here in Hawaii. He's a good football coach and he's got them (San Jose State) playing very well. I'm sure he's looking forward to coming home."
PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB Yonus Davis -- San Jose State wants nothing more than to establish a running game and thus, keep Hawaii's offense on the sidelines. That goal will only be reached if Davis can dance his way around enough defenders to move the chains. Despite averaging 101 yards per game and being the conference's third-leading rusher Davis has been wildly inconsistent this season, but he has the speed to break one at any moment.
CB Dwight Lowery -- This junior is leading the nation with 11 takeaways, including nine interceptions and while he's seen few passes come any way near him the last two weeks, Hawaii's expected to throw at him.
"(Hawaii coach) June (Jones) will not let anyone dictate how his offense plays," San Jose State coach Dick Tomey said.
QB Adam Tafralis -- Simply put, he needs to play the game of his life and likely throw for 350 yards without a turnover for San Jose State to have a chance.
San Jose State coach Dick Tomey reported no new injuries coming out of the Boise State loss this past Saturday.
QB Sean Flynn is likely going to sit out the remainder of the season with a groin injury and he's expected to apply for a medical redshirt which would leave him with two years of eligibility remaining. He was the team's starter entering fall camp.
DT Shane Lapka is expected to miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury.