Michigan vs. Hawaii preview: Covering spread not priority

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Ikaika Woolsey of Hawaii was  17-for-34 for 234 yards, including one touchdown and an interception in team's 51-31 loss to California last week in Sydney, Australia.

Angelique S. Chengelis breaks down Saturday's Michigan-Hawaii game at Michigan Stadium (noon,ESPN/WWJ).

Rainbow Warriors to watch

Diocemy Saint Juste, RB: In his first career start last week, the Florida senior finished with 118 yards on 14 carries. It was the second career 100-yard game for the 5-foot-8, 195 pounder. His 53-yard TD in the first quarter was the longest run of his career.

Rigoberto Sanchez, K/P: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has referenced Sanchez a few times for his kicking prowess. After all, he was one of five players nationally last season who handled all four kicking duties. In the opener, Sanchez handled all four duties again. Last season, he was the Ray Guy national punter of the week after averaging 52.0 yards per punt, including a 73-yarder at Air Force.

Ikaika Woolsey, QB: The 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior has started at least one game in each of his seasons and was named the starter about two weeks into camp. In the opener against California, he was 17-for-34 for 234 yards, one TD and one INT. Last season, Woolsey completed 49 percent of his passes for 908 yards, five TDs and six INTs. He also scored two rushing TDs.

Detroit News predictions: Michigan vs. Hawaii


Fatigued Rainbows? Michigan players said they wouldn’t want to be part of a travel schedule to play games like Hawaii. Hawaii traveled 10,166 air miles to Australia last week to play California, and arrived in Ann Arbor on Thursday after flying the first half of their 8,946-mile round trip. This essentially will be a 6 a.m. kickoff for Hawaii. Could fatigue set it? Maybe Hawaii should be called the Rainbow Road Warriors.

Cover the spread: Michigan is favored by about six touchdowns, but will it cover? Not a big concern, but think about this — coach Jim Harbaugh said upward of 15 freshmen will be on the two-deep, and if this game is a blowout, it will be an opportunity to not only work in a lot of running backs, but a lot of freshmen. Piling on won’t be the object, but getting the young players experience will be.

Air Jordan: The Wolverines officially debut their Nike Air Jordan uniforms, and Michael Jordan will be on the sideline to see it firsthand. The basketball great is the name behind the Jordan Brand associated with Nike, and Michigan is the first football program to wear the “Jumpman” logo. This won’t have an effect on the game, but, hey, Michael Jordan will be the honorary captain, that counts for something, right?

Intimidating Big House? This will be Hawaii’s first trip to Michigan Stadium —capacity is 107,601, but announced attendance can be substantially higher, meaning this could be the biggest crowd before which the Rainbow Warriors have played. But big stadiums aren’t an issue. Last year, they played before a school-record 107,145 at Ohio State.

Ties that bind: Michigan and Hawaii have some interesting connections. Hawaii athletic director David Matlin is a Michigan grad (1987) and his father was in the Tigers front office. Chris Posa, a junior offensive lineman for Hawaii, is from Commerce Township and played for Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. Michigan director of personnel Tony Tuioti played at Hawaii and was an assistant. And, Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa coached the Boston College secondary under current Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown.

Facts and figures

▪ Hawaii will make seven trips this season and play in four time zones. The Rainbows already traveled more than 10,000 miles to play in Australia, and their next biggest trip is to Michigan — round trip is 8,946 miles. Add up the whole season and it comes to 46,568 miles, enough to circle the globe twice.

▪ The road hasn’t been kind to the Rainbow Warriors. They have lost 25 of their last 26 games away from Aloha Stadium. This will be Michigan’s season-opener. The Wolverines are 111-22-3 in season openers.

▪ Michigan is ranked in the top 10 of both major polls — 7th in the AP and 8th in the coaches’ poll — the first time since 2012. Hawaii is 10-40 against nationally-ranked teams, including 1-15 on the road. The Rainbow Warriors have lost seven straight and 11 of the last 12 since 2008.

▪ How about a movement to have the Big Ten expand to include Hawaii? All in favor … Hawaii has had a Big Ten spice to its schedule the last two years. It played at Ohio State and Wisconsin last season, losing 38-0 and 28-0, respectively, and now at Michigan.