It might be one of the least-watched bowl games this year. Even the NCAA football odds aren't sure they'll show up for Hawaii and Middle Tennessee on Christmas Eve.
Season: 25-23-3 (+0.40)
There are many bowl games on this year's postseason schedule that are must-see. They'll match the top teams in the country and be played in front of packed stadiums with millions of others watching on television. There are also a few bowl games this time that won't have marquee teams and likely to be played in half-empty stadiums with very little viewers at home tuning in.
Which brings us to Honolulu and the 2016 Hawaii Bowl. The Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii will be playing in their home stadium and will still not have a large contingency of fans at Aloha Stadium. Their opponent is Middle Tennessee, and while holidays on the island might appeal to a lot of Blue Raiders fans, few are expected to make the trip for the Christmas eve contest (8 PM ET).
College football bettors don't care about any of that as long as they can find a winning angle on a game. Trouble is, there is no edge at all with sports books like Bookmaker still holding off releasing numbers due to some injuries we'll discuss in a bit.
Raiders Scrambling For A Healthy Quarterback
Hawaii (6-7 straight up, 5-7 against the spread) joins North Texas and Mississippi State as the only three teams going to a bowl game with a losing record. If there's any consolation for the Rainbow Warriors, Mean Green and Bulldogs, it's all three sub-.500 teams that went bowling last year won their games.
For Nick Rolovich and Hawaii, a win won't just mean a .500, but a strong finish to one that started with a couple of lopsided losses and three setbacks the first four weeks. Five of the seven losses were by 19+ points, and the Rainbow Warriors rank in the bottom two dozen nationally in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense.
Rick Stockstill and Middle Tennessee (8-4 SU, 6-5 ATS) would love to try and take advantage of those defensive shortcomings with his son Brent at QB, but that isn't going to happen after the sophomore suffered a broken collarbone in a 45-25 Week 10 loss to Texas-San Antonio, a game the Blue Raiders were favored by 19 on the NCAA football odds. Making matters worse is backup John Urzua suffered a concussion in the season finale against Florida Atlantic, and the freshman is questionable for the Hawaii Bowl.
Expecting One Of Highest Bowl Totals
It's just the second meeting between the Rainbow Warriors and Blue Raiders, the other taking place in Honolulu some 23 years ago and Hawaii posting a 35-14 victory. The Warriors enter the contest with a 5-5 bowl record while Middle Tennessee stands 2-5 in postseason play.
We're obviously not concerned with cold for the contest, though a forecast update is advisable just to check for the possibility of rain. Once spreads and totals are released, SBR's live NCAA football odds will have them. We should see a fairly robust total even if MTSU is down to their 3rd-string quarterback, and I'm leaning 'over' for my free college football pick.