Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee prediction, Hawaii Bowl pick, odds, line, watch live stream
How to watch the Hawaii Bowl: Game storylines, spread, time, date, TV channel
Each individual bowl game serves its purpose in entertainment value, but no bowl quite encompasses the "I need to go in another room and get away from the in-laws for a few hours" attitude quite like the Hawaii Bowl. It's the only college game on Christmas Eve and it's an escape in the truest sense of the word.
This year's game features a familiar face -- you know, Hawaii -- which is making its first appearance in the bowl since 2010 when the Rainbow Warriors won 10 regular-season games. First-year coach Nick Rolovich, a former quarterback for the team, did an excellent job getting this program back to the postseason.
However, the Rainbow Warriors will be up against one of the better passing offenses in Conference USA in Middle Tennessee.
Date: Saturday, Dec. 24
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Aloha Stadium -- Honolulu, Hawaii
Hawaii: It's back to the postseason after a five-year absence for Hawaii. What was once a pass-heavy program under the likes of June Jones has made way to a more balanced attack with a ground game that, while inconsistent, is nevertheless much-improved. However, the Rainbow Warriors are still mistake-prone and have suffered dearly defensively for it. Hawaii has won just two games when it gives up over 30 points -- and they were against Tennessee-Martin and UMass. If this gets into a shootout, Hawaii is going to be in trouble.
Middle Tennessee: Meanwhile, the Blue Raiders are a team made for shootouts. Middle Tennessee averaged 40 points per game -- that's 16th nationally -- and managed to win their final two games despite injuries to quarterbacks Brent Stockstill and John Urzua. Stockstill has been cleared of his collarbone injury in time for the game, which is a huge boost for one of the better passing attacks at the Group of Five level.
Players to watch
Marcus Kemp, WR, Hawaii: Kemp has had a solid career for the Rainbow Warriors, but this is his first 1,000-yard effort. The senior led the team with 70 catches and seven touchdowns. Three times this year he's eclipsed the 100-yard mark in receiving yards. He's been quarterback Dru Brown's favorite target and his best game of the season came in an overtime win over Air Force in which he caught the winning pass.
Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee: Bowl games are good opportunities to see players that fly under the radar. In a year in which wide receiver was arguably the deepest position in college football, James falls into the category of productive players who were overlooked. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound redshirt sophomore doesn't jump off the page with his physical measurements, but he finished sixth nationally with 1,463 receiving yards -- which broke his old school record for receiving yards in a single season (1,346).
The line came out late as Stockstill's status was just announced on Thursday. Middle Tennessee has shown it can win without him, but the best-case scenario is that he's healthy enough to play. If the Blue Raiders get rolling offensively, it might be tough for Hawaii to keep up. Pick: Middle Tennessee -6.5
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