Hawaii Bowl prediction roundtable with the Campus Insiders staff. Breaking down what will happen between Hawaii and Middle Tennessee.
Remember the days of Colt Brennan and Timmy Chang? I had fun watching those Hawaii teams air it out. Nick Rolovich, who threw 34 touchdown passes for the Warriors in 2001, now is the head coach of a Hawaii team that isn’t nearly as successful in the passing game.
Middle Tennessee, on the other hand, fields one of the nation’s most underrated quarterbacks in Brent Stockstill, and he’s going to be the difference in this one. Stockstill will return from a three-game absence after breaking his collarbone to throw for four touchdowns in a Blue Raiders victory.
With Brent Stockstill banged up, I have to go with the Rainbow Warriors here. I think I’Tavius Mathers will have a great game against Hawaii, but Nick Rolovich’s team is going to pick up the win. Diocemy Saint Juste, Steven Lakalaka and Paul Harris will help keep the chains moving on the ground, and Harris will pick up a couple of touchdowns to give the Rainbow Warriors the victory.
Nick Rolovich’s squad won its last two games against Fresno State and UMass to get into the postseason, and it will be the team’s first appearance in a bowl game since a 62-35 loss to Tulsa in the 2010 Hawaii Bowl. Quarterback Dru Brown has had an up-and-down campaign, but he had a great effort his last time out. Against UMass, he passed for 311 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. I’d expect him to come back down to earth a little bit against Middle Tennessee, so the run game will need to shine.
Meanwhile, the Blue Raiders will get back their most important piece of their offensive puzzle: quarterback Brent Stockstill, who missed the final three games of the regular season with a broken collarbone. He is one of the best quarterbacks in the Group of Five when healthy.
The Rainbow Warriors will be overwhelmed by too much Stockstill, running back I’Tavius Mathers and wide receiver Richie James. When this offense is clicking and healthy, it is unstoppable. Hawaii is in great hands under Rolovich, but he won’t be able to cap off Year 1 with a victory.
If this game was anywhere but Hawaii, I would pick Middle Tennessee, but the excitement of being in the Aloha State, along with all the activities distracting the Blue Raiders – while the Rainbow Warriors progress through the same game week motions – will cost MTSU a victory.