At the end of a historically bad season, the 3–9 BYU football team will travel to Honolulu looking to finish the year with a win against Hawaii.
Coming off a 9–4 2016 season including a bowl-game win against Wyoming, nobody could have predicted such a disappointing year. BYU football hasn’t seen a losing record in 13 seasons when the team went 5–6 in 2004. The goal for the Cougars now is to avoid a ten-loss season and finish the year on a positive note.
“We’re back on our last week now and basically have nothing else but this game this season,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. “The focus will be on trying to get this win, sending the seniors out on a win and setting the tone for next season and something that we can work off of. That’s been the main focus.”
BYU started the season with a 20–6 win over Portland State but then guaranteed themselves a losing season record when they dropped seven straight games. The seven-game losing streak also ended their 12-year bowl game appearance streak. The Cougars snapped that losing streak with a 41–20 win over San José State on Oct. 28 but then lost again the following week 20–13 to Fresno State. A 31–21 win over UNLV on Nov. 10 was the last win for the team as they then fell most recently to UMass 16–10 last Saturday.
“Senior day didn’t go well for us this weekend, but we have one more last game to send our guys out as winners,” Sitake said.
As if BYU didn’t have enough troubles this season, quarterback injuries have plagued the team. Four Cougar quarterbacks have taken the field this year including junior Tanner Mangum, sophomores Beau Hoge and Koy Detmer Jr. and most recently true freshman Joe Critchlow.
“The focus will be on trying to get this win, sending the seniors out on a win and setting the tone for next season and something that we can work off of. That’s been the main focus.” — Kalani Sitake, BYU football head coach
Mangum first injured his ankle on the final play of the loss to Utah on Sept. 9. A game and a half later Hoge suffered an injury against Utah State. Detmer then went seven for 20 with 91 yards and threw three interceptions in relief. Luckily, Mangum was able to return the next game against Boise State, where Critchlow also saw his first collegiate playing time. Mangum then played the next three games before rupturing his Achilles tendon in the game against Fresno State. Hoge also re-aggravated a toe injury in the Fresno State game making Critchlow the starter for the last three games of the season.
Aside from the quarterback struggles, the Cougar offense has remained at the bottom of the college charts all season. BYU’s 314.7 yards per game ranks them 122nd out of 130 FBS teams. The team is 125th in scoring offense averaging only 16 points per game. The Cougars have only scored 192 points all season compared to the 301 of their opponents. Combined, BYU has given up 25 turnovers including 19 interceptions and six fumbles ranking them 123rd.
The Cougars now have one final game to have a good showing. The game marks the 30th meeting between BYU and Hawaii with the Cougars holding the 21–8 advantage. BYU has won the last three meetings including most recently in 2012 when they blew out the Rainbow Warriors 47–0. Hawaii has also struggled this season with a similar 3–8 record — most recently coming off a 38–0 loss to Utah State. Both teams will play for just their fourth win of the season and hope to finish the year with a victory.
“(Hawaii has) had some struggles this year too, but I think they run the ball well,” Sitake said. “They have guys that care about winning too. The stuff that I’m saying is the same stuff they’re saying to their guys too. They’re trying to build for next year and trying to send their seniors out the right way, and we’re trying to do the same thing. We have a common goal and it’s just a matter of who can get that accomplished on Saturday.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MST on Saturday, Nov. 25. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Fans can listen live on BYU Radio-Sirius XM 143 or on KSL 102.7 FM/1160 AM.