Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the Hawaii Bowl between the Rainbow Warriors and Blue Raiders.
When: Saturday, Dec. 24 – 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Nick Rolovich’s team has seen its share of ups and downs this season. Hawaii (6-7) started off its season in a rocky way with back-to-back losses to Cal and Michigan. It was Week 3 before the Rainbow Warriors were playing at home. But they fought through it all and ultimately found their way into the Hawaii Bowl. That effort was highlighted by Hawaii’s final two games with wins over Fresno State and Umass.
Middle Tennessee (8-4) also had an up-and-down season that saw the Blue Raiders end up in third place in the C-USA’s East division. After falling to UTSA and Marshall, Middle Tennessee was able to turn things around and pick up back-to-back wins over Charlotte and FAU to close out the regular season.
The Rainbow Warriors and Blue Raiders have only met once before in 1993. That meeting in Honolulu was taken by Hawaii, 35-14.
What To Know About Team
Dru Brown hasn’t been the most reliable passer. He’s completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,214 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was also picked off seven times. Brown’s go-to target has been Marcus Kemp. He’s caught 70 passes for 1,036 yards and seven touchdowns.
On the ground is where Hawaii has really found an identity. Steven Lakalaka has been money for the Rainbow Warriors by leading the team with 12 rushing touchdowns. He’s also picked up 415 yards on 100 carries. Diocemy Saint Juste was given 140 carries, and he took them for 836 yards and three touchdowns. But the other member of the three-headed monster is Paul Harris, who has run for 537 yards and two touchdowns on 77 touches.
What to Know About Team
The Blue Raiders had a little more confidence in moving the football through the air, and that was because of Brent Stockstill. He connected on 63.9 percent of his throws for 2,801 yards and 27 touchdowns to five interceptions before being ruled out for the season with a broken collarbone. Now, it’s up to John Urzua, who has hit on 59.5 percent of his passes for 816 yards, eight touchdowns and eight picks. Richie James leads the team with 97 catches for 1,463 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Richie James leads the team with 97 catches for 1,463 yards and 11 touchdowns. But Middle Tennessee can certainly run the ball, too. I’Tavius Mathers has compiled 1,504 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 220 carries, which leads the team in all three categories.
Offense: Hawaii – The Rainbow Warriors’ three-headed monster in the backfield gives them the nod.
Defense: Middle Tennessee – Both defenses are awful, but the Blue Raiders have been slightly less bad.
Special Teams: Hawaii – Rigoberto Sanchez has hit 42-of-43 extra points and all 12 field goal attempts.
Coaching: Middle Tennessee – Rolovich has done a fine job, but Rick Stockstill has his team above .500.
Matchup To Watch
Hawaii running game vs. Middle Tennessee defense
The Blue Raiders have to find a way to slow down the Rainbow Warriors when they try to move the ball on the ground. Lakalaka has been the guy to punch it into the end zone, and Saint Juste has some big play ability to his game, too. If Middle Tennessee can bottle them up, this will be interesting.
Spread: No line as of publication
Over/Under: No line as of publication
Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee Prediction
Lakalaka is going to take over this game in a hurry. Brown will help set up the Rainbow Warriors by running with the ball to move the chains, and Saint Juste will help out. But Lakalaka will find his way into the end zone three times in this one to help give Hawaii the win.
Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee Score Prediction: Hawaii 49, Middle Tennessee 35
Campus Insiders Staff Picks
Brian Stultz: Hawaii
Jeff Bartl: Hawaii
Rich Cirminiello: Hawaii
Robert Judin: Hawaii
Jordan Cornette: Middle Tennessee