Fresno State looks to win at Hawaii for only second time since 1967
HONOLULU -- Fresno State coach Pat Hill knows it's not just jet lag and Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense that his players must face every trip to the islands, but it's everything from bustling Waikiki to the peaceful surf and sand.
The Bulldogs (3-3, 1-0 Western Athletic Conference) are looking to snap a three-game road losing skid Saturday night in Honolulu, a place where they've recorded only one victory in 11 games since 1967.
"This trip to Hawaii will be a real adventure," Hill said. "I think the main thing a young man has to understand on these trips is that there's times to be focused on the task at hand and there's times to be on your own."
The Warriors (2-3, 1-1 WAC) have had their own road woes. All three of their losses have come outside of Aloha Stadium, including last week's 27-16 loss to Tulsa, which was predicted to finish last in the WAC.
Hawaii and Fresno State are a combined 5-0 at home, but 0-6 on the road.
"We are 0-3 on the road but Tennessee, Oklahoma and Colorado State are three very tough venues," he said. "When you look at our roster, 40 of our 60-man travel roster are freshmen and sophomores, so there are a lot of guys that haven't traveled."
Quarterback Paul Pinegar, who last year led the Bulldogs to a 9-3 record en route to WAC freshman of the year honors, has returned from a chest injury and is scheduled to make his first start of the year.
He played the second half last week against Colorado State and went 11-of-19 for 111 yards and two interceptions. He seeks to give a boost to Fresno State's lackluster offense, which averages 314.3 yards and 19.7 points per game.
The Bulldogs will focus on stopping Chang, who is ranked fifth nationally in total offense averaging 327 yards per game. The junior needs 79 passing yards to become the 25th player in Division I-A history to pass for 10,000 yards in a career.
Last year at Fresno, Chang rallied the Warriors for 22 points in the fourth quarter, giving them a 31-21 win. He had a career-best 462 passing yards and two TDs that game.
"You have top pressure him and you have to contain him," Hill said. "We have to do a good job with our coverages and make him see certain things. Hopefully we can make the plays when the ball comes out."
Chang will face Fresno State's defense, which is second in the nation with 12 intercepted passes.
"They come with an attitude and they bring it," Chang said. "They're strong, fast and big. They cause a lot of problems."
A pair of Hawaii's first-string receivers are expected back in the lineup Saturday. Chad Owens is returning from a two-game suspension and Jeremiah Cockheran said he expects to play. Cockheran, sidelined last week with an ankle injury, is leading the WAC with an average of seven catches and 107 yards per game.
"They're a team that has a lot of strengths," Hill said. "It's sort of puzzling that they are 2-3. They are, to me, the team you have to beat if you want to win the conference."
The last two Fresno State-Hawaii meetings at Aloha Stadium ended dramatically. In 1999, the Warriors won by a field goal in double overtime. Two years later, former Hawaii receiver Ashley Lelie caught a game-winning score with 13 seconds left.
"I've enjoyed competing against them because they come and show up every week and give it everything they got no matter what time of year it is," Hawaii coach June Jones said.
Jones said Fresno State has since overtaken Brigham Young University as Hawaii's main rival.
"The competition between these two teams is unexplainable," Warriors offensive lineman Uriah Moenoa said. "Being the top two teams in the conference, it's going to be like that. There's no hatred. We respect Fresno State, they respect us, I hope."
With Boise State looking dominant again this year, another WAC loss for Hawaii would virtually end any hopes of a shot at a conference title.
"It's a must win for Hawaii or they are looking at the scoreboard every week before they play," Hill said. "A loss at Hawaii still puts us in a position to control our own destiny. As soon as you can't control your own destiny, then you are in must-win games.
"It's a very big game but I'm not telling these kids that it's a must-win game," he said. "There's a must win coming up soon, I just don't know when it's going to be."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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