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Idaho less impressive upon closer inspection


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POSTED: Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Even the bookies can't believe it. One of the betting line Web sites listed Hawaii as a 7 1/2 -point favorite against Idaho this Saturday. Usually that would be about right, or not quite enough points for the underdog Vandals.

But things have changed; it was supposed to be the other way around, with Idaho (5-1) giving the points to Hawaii (2-3). And apparently, it wasn't enough, as the line moved to 12 within a day.

Hawaii a 12-point underdog against Idaho?

I understand Vandal Fever; whenever a downtrodden program puts a few wins together, it's exciting.

And it's real easy to be down on the Warriors now, with three losses in a row (the last two not close) for the first time since 2000.

Idaho has won four in a row, is unbeaten at its intimate Kibbie Dome, and even got a vote in the AP Top 25 this week.

Before the season began, I picked Hawaii to win five games: Central Arkansas, Washington State, Utah State, New Mexico State ... and Idaho. I was tempted to jump on that Vandals bandwagon, but found some reasons to think the Warriors will win.

Idaho's victories are against the murderers' row of New Mexico State, San Diego State, Northern Illinois, Colorado State and San Jose State — a combined 13-15. The Vandals have scored 172 points and allowed 153; they're not exactly blowing people away.

As usual, Idaho's pass defense isn't very good, allowing 251.5 yards per game. And it's got just six sacks in six games.

Bryant Moniz will be significantly better in his second game as Hawaii quarterback. The Vandals like to throw, so maybe the Warriors' weakness against the run won't be that big a deal.

I'll stick to my preseason pick and go with UH on this one.

» The classification conversation never ends with 'Iolani football, the back-to-back Division II state champion. Over the years, I've seen how small many of the Raiders players are, so I'd never had a problem with the school putting itself in D-II.

However, victories over Punahou and Kamehameha this season made me reconsider. So I went last week to see them play the third member of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's big three, Saint Louis. The Crusaders won, rather handily. That — and a look at the weights on the 'Iolani roster — makes me think the Raiders are still OK for D-II (at least for now).

» Jeff Ulbrich's fine career as a linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers may be over now with the concussion the 10-year veteran recently suffered. Is there anyone who doesn't agree he has the makings of a fine coach?

» If you're driving anywhere in the university area tomorrow evening, give yourself extra time. There will be plenty of traffic around campus as the UH volleyball team goes for the 1,000th win in coach Dave Shoji's career. Or there should be.

» UH unveils its men's and women's basketball teams this week. There's a little more buzz than usual, as the Rainbow Warriors have brought in former Providence guard Dwain Williams — a player who may alleviate one of UH's biggest problems last year, terrible outside shooting. And the Wahine will get plenty of fan support early on as former player Dana Takahara-Dias takes over as coach, with Shawna Lei Kuehu — one of the state's best-ever prep players — in the fold at shooting guard.

Too bad no Midnight Ohana to enhance the excitement.

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Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.