Warriors on Roll

A completed pass against San Jose State in November was the last time Tyler Graunke got a chance to make a play in 2006. Now, he's getting much more playing time than Hawaii would have liked.

With Colt Brennan hurting, the 16th-ranked Warriors (6-0, 3-0) may need to start Graunke for the second time this season as they face the Spartans on Friday night in a battle for first place in the Western Athletic Conference.

Brennan aggravated a right ankle injury late in the first half of a 52-17 win over Utah State on Sunday night. He initially suffered the injury in practice Sept. 14.

Brennan played against UNLV the next day, but the injury forced him to sit out against Charleston Southern on Sept. 23. Graunke started for Hawaii in that game and finished Sunday's contest when the Heisman Trophy candidate couldn't continue, throwing for three touchdowns in the third quarter and running for another score.

Brennan was hurt after completing a short pass and getting hit by Utah State linebacker Paul Igboeli. He returned in the third quarter with an ankle brace, but played one series before limping off the field for good.

"It's been frustrating the last couple of weeks - feeling not right," said Brennan, who has thrown for 1,850 yards and 16 touchdowns with six interceptions. "(But) we're 6-0 and we're rolling and I'm fine with that."

Graunke completed his first nine passes for 246 yards and finished the night 9-of-11, helping the Warriors win their school-record 10th straight conference game. In his start against Charleston Southern, Graunke threw for 285 yards, three TDs and two interceptions.

"I always known that he could play," Hawaii coach June Jones said of Graunke. "I'm proud of him."

Graunke got limited snaps last season, mostly in mop-up duty. He completed his only pass in a 54-17 win over San Jose State on Nov. 18 and didn't play again until this season's opener, throwing two interceptions in a 63-6 win over Northern Colorado on Sept. 1.

The Warriors, though, have shown they can win with Graunke under center. Their resiliency with Brennan out has helped them go 6-0 for the first time since winning their first seven games in 1981.

Hawaii will now face San Jose State (3-3, 2-0), which has won three straight after an 0-3 start.

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Hawaii -18 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Friday night's game, the over/under has been set at 69.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Hawaii -18 (View College Football bet percentages).

A victory Friday would move the Spartans into first place. They're looking to go 3-0 in conference play for the first time since joining the WAC in 1996.

"It feels good to be at .500," San Jose State quarterback Adam Tafralis said after a 28-20 win over Idaho on Saturday. "We need to get it going for Hawaii."

The Warriors, however, have won six in a row against the Spartans. San Jose State hasn't beaten Hawaii since a 57-48 victory at Aloha Stadium on Oct. 28, 2000.

"There is a lot left over for us from last year's game," said Tafralis, who was sacked six times in that matchup. "Not for them, because they did what they wanted to do against us. It has built up for us."

Tafralis threw for a pair of touchdowns against Idaho, finishing with 302 yards on 22-of-30 passing. He has thrown for at least 300 yards in three straight games.

Kevin Jurovich, Tafralis' top target, caught 10 passes for 161 yards Saturday to become the first Spartans receiver in five years to record back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. He leads the team with 37 receptions for 521 yards and three touchdowns.

Tafralis and Jurovich were helped by an improved running game. James T. Callier recorded San Jose State's first two rushing touchdowns of the season, and the Spartans reached 100 yards on the ground for the time in 2007.

They'll be facing a Hawaii defense that has struggled in its last two games, allowing 57 points in that span. Warriors linebacker Solomon Elimimian, however, was named WAC defensive player of the week after recording a 2007 conference-high 20 tackles.

Elimimian was three tackles shy of tying the school record. He also had one-half sack, one tackle for a loss and broke up a pass.

San Jose State, meanwhile, has been strong on defense during its winning streak, holding opponents to less than 300 yards of offense in each game. Spartans safety Jonathan Harris has intercepted a pass in three consecutive contests.

San Jose State is 15-13-1 against Hawaii.

by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us

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