Florida-Miami was the headliner of College Football Week Zero. It was intense, but sloppy and often not that entertaining. Hawaii-Arizona was everything the game in Orlando was not.
Hawaii came out red hot behind gunslinger quarterback Cole McDonald. In the first half, he threw for four touchdowns, and at times, it looked like Hawaii might run away with an upset home win.
McDonald, who threw just 10 interceptions last season, was uncharacteristically sloppy though, which ultimately kept Arizona in the game. He threw four interceptions, three of which came in the first half. As a team, the Rainbow Warriors lost the turnover battle 6-2, which would doom most teams.
McDonald was eventually replaced by Chevan Cordeiro, who came up big for the Rainbow Warriors last season in spots. He did it again tonight, completing 5-of-7 passes for 58 yards and a score, and adding 34 yards on the ground.
On the other side, Khalil Tate, who has struggled under Kevin Sumlin after a monster 2017 season under Rich Rodriguez, had a massive game, throwing for 361 yards and three touchdowns, and adding 108 on the ground.
Down 45-38 with 10 seconds left, 31 yards from the end zone, Tate took off into the open field.
He made it 30 yards before being dragged down inside the one-yard line, on a dramatic play shades of the end of the 2000 Super Bowl, when Tennessee Titan Kevin Dyson came up one-yard short on a touchdown that could have tied the game.
Khalil Tate comes up less than a yard short of a game-tying TD as time expires. @HawaiiFootball squeezes out the 45-38 victory. 👀
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) August 25, 2019
College football is wild, so we’ll get some similarly dramatic finishes throughout the year, but this Hawaii win over Arizona is going to be on the shortlist for the next four months.
On top of the early-game flashes from McDonald, and the clutch play of Cordeiro, Hawaii got an all-time game from wide receiver Cedric Byrd II. He caught 14 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns on the day, including what proved to be the game winner with five minutes left.
Diehard college football fans know Hawaii is a great late night watch, especially with Nick Rolovich’s offense clicking over the last two seasons. This game was exactly why.