Game Preview: ‘Bows open 2021 season against UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday


Darius Muasau

The University of Hawai’i football team begins Year 2 of the Todd Graham era with a season-opening road game at UCLA in the Rose Bowl Stadium, Saturday, Aug. 28 in a nationally televised game on ESPN.

Kickoff is 12:30 p.m. PT (9:30 a.m. HT). The Rainbow Warriors (5-4 in 2020) are seeking their first win over the Bruins in the schools’ fourth all-time meeting.This season marks the fourth time in the last five years that Hawai’i will open the season with a true road game. UH has won the previous three — 2020 at Fresno State, 2018 at Colorado State and 2017 at UMass.

This year also marks the ninth time in the last 12 years that UH opens the season versus a Pac-12 squad. UH is 3-5 in those previous eight encounters, including a home win over Arizona in the 2019 season opener.

This will be UH’s second trip to the Rose Bowl in the last five seasons. UH fell to the Bruins, 56-23, in 2017.

UH’s last road/neutral win against a Pac-12 opponent was a 38-20 victory over Washington State in 2009 in a game played at Qwest Field in Seattle, Wash. Since then, UH has lost nine straight.

UH is 4-12 in its last 16 games versus Pac-12 opponents since 2010. The wins have come against Arizona (2019), Colorado (2011, ’15) and Oregon State (2019). UH’s last eight wins against Power 5 conferences have come against the Pac-12.

This week’s game is the first of seven roads contests for the Rainbow Warriors this season, the most regular season road games in the history of the program. In 2016, UH opened the season with a neutral site contest vs. Cal in Sydney, Australia, before playing six true road games.

UH seeks its fourth straight winning season, which was last accomplished from 2001-04. The Warriors have had a winning season in four of the last five years including a 5-4 mark in 2020.

UH has seven offensive starters back, highlighted by Calvin Turner Jr., an all-conference pick last year at receiver who enters this year as the nation’s leading returner in career all-purpose yards (4,359 yards).

The defense returns all 11 starters and is anchored by first-team all-MW linebacker Darius Muasau, who led FBS with 68 solo tackles and ranked fifth in tackles per game (11.8) last season.

UH begins its second year under Todd Graham, who led the Warriors to a 5-4 record and a win over Houston in the 2020 New Mexico Bowl. He was the first UH coach to post a winning record in his debut season since June Jones (9-4) in 1999.

UCLA, which went 3-4 in 2020, is coached by Chip Kelly, who begins his fourth season with the Bruins and has a 10-21 record at the school. 

Kelly won the only head-to-head match-up against Graham as his Oregon squad defeated Graham’s Arizona State team, 43-21, in Tempe in 2012.

HAWAI’I (0-0, 0-0 Mountain West) vs UCLA (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12)
Date | TimeSaturday, Aug. 28, 2021 | 12:30 p.m. PT / 9:30 a.m. HT
Location | StadiumPasadena, Calif. | Rose Bowl Stadium (90,888)
TelevisionESPN. Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Kirk Morrison (analyst), and Dawn Davenport (sideline).
Live StreamWatchESPN
National RadioWestwood One Sports. Paul Burmeister (play-by-play), Ryan Leaf (analyst). 
Local RadioESPN Honolulu (1420AM/92.7FM). Bobby Curran (play-by-play), John Veneri (analyst). KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i). Chris Hart, Gary Dickman, and Arnold Martinez hosts “The New Countdown To Kickoff” at 10:30 a.m. HT.
Streaming & Sideline Hawaii app
Game NotesHawai’i (PDF) | UCLA
Digital ProgramHawai’i Football Weekly
Social Media@HawaiiFootball Twitter | #HawaiiFB | @RainbowWarriorsFootball Instagram | Facebook Facebook

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