Defense has been the story of the half so far in the Hawaii Bowl, with Hawaii leading Louisiana tech 7-3 at halftime. From sacks to pass breakups, the defenses for both teams have been making some good plays.
Hawaii, playing without receiver John Ursua due to an injury, has the only touchdown so far. It came on a touchdown pass from Chevan Cordeiro, who has come in to replace Cole McDonald, to Jason-Matthew Sharsh in the second quarter. The Rainbow Warriors defense has forced three turnovers on three straight Louisiana Tech possessions to prevent the Bulldogs from establishing any offensive threat so far. The Bulldogs have fumbled twice and J’Mar Smith has thrown an interception.
Louisiana Tech defensive lineman Jaylon Ferguson ended the first quarter by tracking down Chevan Cordeiro for a sack that brought him within half a sack of the FBS career sack record of 44. The second half will see Ferguson try to pass Arizona State legend Terrell Suggs for the all-time record. He nearly set the record late in the second quarter with a takedown of Cordeiro but penalties on the play waved the sack off the record book due to a facemask penalty.
The tension on the line of scrimmage has started to see some extracurricular activity as well. The officials have been busy with the flags as a result.
College football’s award season is coming soon, which means various individual awards are trimming down their massive watch lists to much smaller lists of semifinalists, and soon finalists. The Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s best receiver regardless of position, released its list of 11 semifinalists for its award this season. As expected, some of the nation’s leading receivers managed to make the cut midway through November.
The list of semifinalists includes some of the top receivers from the Big 12 with Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, West Virginia’s David Sills V, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley are among the 11 semifinalists for the award. Wesley leads the nation in average receiving yards per game with 134.7 ypg. Wallace is not far behind with 128.2 ypg. Those two are among the seven receivers who have already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season.
UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who leads the nation with 1,479 receiving yards was also named a semifinalist for the award. Hawaii’s John Ursua, the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns (15) also made the cut.
The SEC’s top two receivers, A.J. Brown of Ole Miss (SEC-leading 1,047 receiving yards) and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy (SEC-leading 10 touchdowns and second-most receiving yards, 925 yards). Arizona State’s N'Keal Harry, among the Pac-12 leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns, is joined by Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside as the Pac-12’s semifinalists.
Freshman star Rondale Moore of Purdue is the only player from a Big Ten school named a semifinalist for the award. Among the power conferences, the Big Ten has the longest drought of Biletnikoff Award winners with Braylon Edwards of Michigan being the last Big Ten player to win the award in 2004. The Big 12 has dominated the award over the past decade with seven Biletnikoff Award winners since 2007 including the last three years (Corey Coleman of Baylor in 2015, Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma in 2016, and James Washington of Oklahoma State in 2017) and two back-to-back winners (Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech in 2007-2008 and Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State in 2010 and 2011).
This list of 11 semifinalists will be trimmed down to three finalists on Nov. 19. The 2018 Biletnikoff Award will be presented on Dec. 6 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Presentation on ESPN.