Last 4 games hold the key to Hawaii’s BCS hopes
THE release of the first BCS rankings takes place today and Hawaii awaits the ruling like a defendant hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.
A close call at soggy San Jose State has the 16th-ranked Warriors wondering how much that big Western Athletic Conference win figures into the grand scheme of the BCS formula. Granted, the victory is all that matters, and there are still five games remaining that can shape Hawaii's BCS future as the Warriors take this week off to reflect and recuperate.
But an unbiased voter who tuned in Friday night saw a prohibitive favorite fiddling around on a muddy track, before finding a way to pull out the win. Was it an entertaining ballgame? You bet. Did it keep Hawaii in the upper tier of the only poll that matters? We'll see soon enough.
Just don't be surprised if Hawaii slides down the BCS dial a bit compared to the human polls due to strength of schedule. When the day began on the second Saturday in October, Hawaii was nestled comfortably between No. 15 Wisconsin and No. 17 Cincinnati in the coaches and Harris Interactive polls that are used in the BCS equation.
The uneven Badgers accommodated Hawaii by being wiped out at Penn State. Cincinnati went pass for pass with fellow Big East member Louisville, before losing to the once-top-10 ranked Cardinals, giving Hawaii a chance to move up.
A wild card for those ranked in the second 10 was Kentucky. The Wildcats were a couple of notches below the Warriors, but will shoot past them with their OT upset of consensus No. 1 Louisiana State. And here is where the real problem resides for Hawaii.
While teams like Kentucky have a chance to beat opponents ranked in the Top 25, Hawaii has no such outlet and could remain locked out of the top dozen spots needed to secure a BCS berth no matter what the Warriors do.
ON FRIDAY NIGHT, the ESPN analysts predicted Hawaii would come in at around No. 20 in the first BCS poll, a number Hawaii can live with considering the weak schedule and quarterback Colt Brennan's bum ankle. His chances of winning the Heisman have grown dim. Some will say it's because it's tough to throw on one foot. Others counter that what he did last year was once in a lifetime.
Regardless, he still has 20 touchdown passes in six games with 10 interceptions, including nine vs. Idaho and San Jose State. Having only one home game vs. struggling New Mexico State over a three-week span should help Brennan heal for the stretch drive. Win those last four -- that's a tall order no matter how you stack it -- and the Warriors could make Brennan's return for his senior season all worthwhile.
Sports Editor Paul Arnett
has been covering sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1990. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org