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Photo Credit: Lucas Peltier/UNLV Athletics

New FSM Preview: Week 6 – UNLV vs Hawai’i – 2023

Franchise Sports Media


UNLV is back home at Allegiant Stadium to take on the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in The Ninth Island Showdown.

UNLV vs Hawai’i is taking place this Saturday. 

UNLV vs Hawai'i | Franchise Sports Media | Jai'Den Thomas
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

UNLV welcomes the University of Hawai’i to Allegiant Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the latest installment of The Ninth Island Showdown.

The last time these two rivals faced off, the Rainbow Warriors upset the Rebels 35-21 in Hawai’i. For UNLV, it was the game that potentially could have gotten them closer to being bowl-eligible, and ultimately sealed the fate of then-head coach Marcus Arroyo. History will also be made as this is the first time that UNLV opens its Mountain West schedule by hosting Hawai’i.

This marks the earliest meeting of these rivals since a non-conference affair on Sept. 17, 2011. Hawai’i leads the overall series 19-13 but the Rebels have won 10 of the last 19 meetings, including the most recent game played in Las Vegas (27-13 in 2021). Amazingly, the home team has won this matchup in 12 of the last 14 years with only a UNLV 2016 win in Honolulu and Hawai’i’s win in Las Vegas in 2019.

The Rebels have won two straight games after downing UTEP 45-28 at Sun Bowl Stadium while the Rainbow Warriors defeated NMSU at home, 20-17. UNLV kicks off Mountain West play after having won more than two non-conference games in a season for the first time since also going 3-1 in 2008, and Rebels head coach Barry Odom is the first UNLV head coach to win three of his first four games since Wayne Nunnely started 3-1 in 1986.

They don’t call it the Ninth Island for no reason. UNLV has three players who graduated from Aloha State high schools. They are quarterback Cameron Friel (Kailua High School), defensive back Rashod Tanner (Moanalua High School), and linebacker Blesyng Alualu-Tuiolemotu (Campbell High School). In addition, Honolulu native, quarterback Jayden Maiava, previously attended Kaimuki High School (2019) before ultimately graduating from Liberty High School in Las Vegas.

UNLV wants to improve to 4-1 on the season. 

UNLV is looking for a big turnout when they take on Hawai’i. They are encouraging the fans to come out and support the Rebels, not the Rainbow Warriors.

UNLV is looking to bring home The Golden Pineapple as they take on Hawai’i this week in The Ninth Island Showdown.

UNLV vs Hawai'i | Franchise Sports Media | Jai'Den Thomas
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas is called “The Ninth Island” for a reason, and it seems when Hawai’i comes to play, the Rainbow Warriors‘ fans come out and turn it into a home-away-from-home game. This being his first year as the Rebels’ head coach, Barry Odom doesn’t want that to happen.

For the life of me, there’s no way that I’m gonna believe that this game is more important to them than it is us. I’m talking fans, I’m talking the ability to prepare. I’m talking competition field for 3 1/2 hours,” Odom said on his weekly coaches show. “I won’t believe – I refuse to believe that. So I’ve heard a lot of fans support them. If we don’t have more in there than they do, then I’m not a very good job. Our job is to prepare as well as we can prepare and go with the trophy and that’s our focus.” 

Hawai’i defensive coordinator Jacob Yoro had this to say about playing UNLV at Allegiant Stadium and the fans who don’t show up.

When you have a chance like this, you gotta get excited as a defense coach, and a great job up there at UNLV. They’re putting up 40 points again every single game, doing it in the air as well on the ground and so you know the things that they do unique presents unique problems,Yoro said. “Those are fun things the game plan, and so I’m excited for this is a competitor. Our kids are excited about a rivalry game. We’re gonna have more fans up there than they will, so there’s a lot of excitement buzzing around this week. 

Even the players understand what a big game this is and what it means to start off Mountain West Conference play with a win. “A Mountain West Championship at the end of the day is what we want and to get that we have to start 1-0 with Hawai’i,UNLV linebacker and co-captain Jackson Woodard said.

Because it’s the ninth island, there’s a lot of Hawai’i fans out here and a lot of our fans out here too. So, I mean, it’s for the golden pineapple, so a trophy is involved and it makes it even more important,” UNLV defensive tackle Jalen Dixon said.

I mean honestly, it’s just obviously a big game, but at this point this season we’re really just focused on going 1-0 each week, you know?UNLV center Jack Hasz said. “Hawai’i is next so we are focused on them. If you look ahead, nothing but bad things can happen, so I mean all our efforts are going into them.”

This week I expect red-shirt freshman quarterback Jayden Maiava to once again get the start, but I also expect Doug Brumfield to be available if needed. Also, the Honcho of Havoc, Jerrae Williams, is out after he posted he had foot surgery earlier in the week.

Freshman running back Jai’DenJetThomas is just one touchdown away from tying the freshman touchdown record (8) held by Armani Rogers. After his 4 touchdown performance against UTEP, Thomas is looking to once again break out and cement his name in the UNLV record books. Hawai’i is surrendering 181 yards pregame on the ground in their last 3 games, so the Rebels could have an advantage there.  

UNLV is looking to beat Hawai’i and improve to 4-1 as conference play starts. 

5 Key Rebels to Watch

Five key players to watch for UNLV.

UNLV vs Hawai'i | Franchise Sports Media | Jai'Den Thomas
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

Here are five key Rebels to watch this week vs Hawai’i:

  1. The UNLV Secondary: The UNLV needs their secondary to have another big game, particularly the cornerbacks. With Williams out, it is all hands on deck for the Rebels.
  2. The Offensive Line: The Rebels must establish the line-of-scrimmage early to run the Go-Go Offense. They also have to give Jayden Maiava time to throw and continue to open running lanes for the Rebels‘ running backs.
  3. Special Teams need to stay special: Jacob De Jesus is due to take one to the house. Could this be the week he breaks the curse of not returning a punt for a TD? I think it could be.
  4. Jayden Maiava: This is a big game for Maiava since it’s a game against his home state. He can’t put too much pressure on himself to perform and he needs to stay poised.
  5. The UNLV Fans: We saw what fan support can do when UNLV played Vanderbilt. Now it’s time to raise the ante and show up for Hawai’i and support the Rebels. UNLV needs to create a home-field advantage and it’s up to the fans to show up.

It’s time for some Rebels football! #RebelUp

Can UNLV improve to 4-1 when they take on Hawai’i this week?   

The Rebels are back home at Allegiant Stadium to take on Hawai’i on Saturday afternoon. The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Allegiant Stadium. Click here for tickets.


-Joe Arrigo   Franchise Sports Media

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