Dave Reardon: Road trip not a bad way to start a season

Aug. 23—The road is not usually kind to the University of Hawaii football team.

Is there any reason it should be different in season openers?


You could make the argument that the road disadvantage for UH — or any team — might be less in the first game of the year than it is in others because of that long bye called the offseason. Traveling thousands of miles to play away from home may be less daunting if you've had months instead of days since your last game.

Of course, the quality of the team hosting you might factor in.

UH's game at Vanderbilt on Saturday will be the sixth time in eight years that the Warriors start their season away from the islands. But the total sample size of road openers is smaller than you might think.

Starting in 1941 with its 14-0 win at Pacific in the program's first road debut, Hawaii has begun its football season away from home just 17 times. That includes the 2016 game in Australia. UH's opponent, Cal, had a longer voyage to get to that game. The Bears traveled nearly 7,500 miles to Sydney compared to around 5,000 for the Warriors

It didn't make a difference in the outcome, as Cal won 51-31. After that, the Warriors went nearly 10,000 miles from Sydney for their next game a week later, at Michigan. It probably wasn't going to be close anyway, but the hosts won that one 63-3. Nick Rolovich's first team as head coach did recover to finish 7-7 on the season, though.

A long flight to its first game didn't hurt Vanderbilt last year, as the Commodores overcame a slow start to blast the Warriors 63-10 here, at the Ching Complex — which is around 4,300 miles from FirstBank Stadium in Nashville, where Hawaii will try to return the favor Saturday. Oddsmakers don't think it's likely, though, with Vanderbilt favored by around 17 points.

In true road openers (not counting the neutral site loss to Cal in Australia), UH is 7-9.

Most of those games have been on the West Coast, and Hawaii has a winning record of 5-4 in Pacific time zone openers.

Of the four time zones on the continent with college football, there's just one where UH hasn't won a

season-opening game ...

and that's the one where

the Warriors play Saturday, the Central.

UH has won several games in the Central time zone; it's where former conference mates LaTech, Rice and SMU are, and the Warriors are a combined 6-5 at their places. But none of those were season-opening games.

Hawaii came very close

to winning its one Central season-opener. The Warriors outscored Alabama in the second half of a 25-17 loss at Alabama on Sept. 2, 2006. On the last play of the game, Colt Brennan passed into the Tide end zone. But the Hail Mary was intercepted.

UH had stumbled through the first half in front of the largest crowd in program history, dropping passes and turning the ball over in front of 92,138 fans at Bryant-

Denny Stadium. Bama led by 12 at the break.

Hawaii played like a different team after halftime. With Brennan throwing touchdown passes to Reagan Mauia and Ryan Grice-

Mullens, the Warriors outscored the Tide 14-10 in the third and fourh quarters before time ran out on them.

Although it wasn't the Alabama of Nick Saban yet, it was still Alabama. A win would have eclipsed what some consider the biggest upset victory in UH football history ... which also happened to be a road season


On Sept. 15, it will be 50 years since Hawaii was a 28-point underdog at Washington to start the season.

UH came away as a 10-7 winner against a young Huskies team.

The Rainbows defense was clutch, with three fourth-down stops within their 10-yard line. Levi Stanley was in on 16 tackles, and Hal Stringert intercepted three passes. The last came with 3 minutes, 37 seconds left, and UH held on to the ball the rest of the way.

There are still some Hawaii fans around who remember the 6-0 win at Nebraska (played at Lincoln, in the Central time zone, by the way) on Sept. 17, 1955, and consider that the biggest upset in the program's history.

It's debatable.

It wasn't, however, the season-opening game — even though it was the first against a college opponent. Back then, the 'Bows schedule included all kinds of squads, and the 7-4 season started Sept. 2 with a 33-7 win over a team called

Prep All-Stars, at Honolulu Stadium.


Reach Dave Reardon at


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