Hawaii and Houston will square off in the New Mexico Bowl on Christmas Eve in what should be a fun afternoon matchup between the Mountain West and AAC. The game will look a little different this year, though. Local and regional COVID-19 restrictions in the Albuquerque area have forced the game to relocate to Frisco, Texas, just outside of Dallas.
The Rainbow Warriors are back in a bowl game for a third straight year, this time under former Arizona State coach Todd Graham. He took over for Nick Rolovich, who headed to Washington State. Hawaii has won two of its last three games to close the regular season. Sophomore quarterback Chevan Cordeiro leads the way this year with 1,941 passing yards and 18 total touchdowns in eight games.
The Cougars have had as chaotic of a year as any team in college football. Coach Dana Holgorsen's crew is 3-4 and had its first two games canceled before finally starting Oct. 8. The Cougars are giving up 5.9 yards per play this season, which has prevented them from staying in games on a consistent basis.
Houston: The Cougars have managed to put together a strong offensive season despite the early-season chaos. Quarterback Clayton tune has thrown for 1,832 yards and 13 touchdowns, while adding 269 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Five different Cougars have 200 or more receiving yards in what evolved into a versatile offense -- one of the staples of any Holgersen-led team. One of those receivers, senior Marquez Stevenson, will sit out Thursday's matchup and prepare for the NFL.
Hawaii: The biggest thing that the Rainbow Warriors have to do is stay on schedule. Houston gets really creative with how it brings pressure, and Cordeiro will have to find ways to get the offense in second- and third-and-short situations. Otherwise, it might be a long day. Running back Miles Reed entered the transfer portal earlier this month, which will put even more pressure on Calvin Turner to help out his quarterback.
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Game: New Mexico Bowl
Date: Thursday, Dec. 24 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Toyota Stadium -- Frisco, Texas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
New Mexico Bowl prediction, picks
It's going to be a long trip to Texas for Hawaii both literally and figuratively. The Cougars defensive front will disrupt the Rainbow Warriors offense and limit their scoring opportunities. On the other side, Tune will have a solid day against a defense that doesn't have the athletes to keep pace for a full 60 minutes. Pick: Under 60 | Houston 31, Hawaii 17
So who wins Houston vs. Hawaii? And which side of the spread hits well over 50 percent of the time? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread to back, all from the proven model on a 55-35 run on its top-rated college football picks this season.