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Hawai’i Bowl Preview: BYU vs Hawaii

For the third time in four years, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are playing their bowl game in their home stadium. This year’s opponent is the former WAC/Mountain West rival BYU Cougars, who are 23-8 all-time against the Warriors — including a 49-23 victory over Hawaii last season.

Hawai’i Bowl Matchup Information
  • Spread: BYU -2
  • Total: 62.5
  • Date/Time: December 24, 8 p.m. ET
  • Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Stadium: Aloha Stadium
  • TV Coverage: ESPN
  • BYU vs Hawaii Matchup Report & Updated Odds

Hawai’i Bowl Odds Analysis

BYU has a history of delivering as a favorite in bowl season, winning its last eight playoff games SU as chalk. If this opener holds, it’ll mark the fifth time the Cougars have been a road favorite in Hawaii, but the first time that they’ve laid less than a field goal.

BYU News & Notes

The Cougars aren’t just going to Hawaii for some fun in the sun. BYU head coach Kalani Sitake says he’s taking this game extremely seriously, and it appears his players are as well. Although BYU features several players who could attract interest in next year’s NFL draft, none of the Cougars are expected to sit this one out.

“They all want to play football. I am lucky to coach these guys. They are all going to make the trip and all get on the field,” Sitake told reporters, adding that playing in a stand-alone prime-time game on national TV is a big opportunity to build recognition of the program. BYU has a history of living up to expectations in bowl season, going a perfect 8-0 in its last eight as a favorite.

Not that there isn’t any reason for concern in Provo these days. The Cougars ended the season with disarray at quarterback, where four different players — including sophomore starter Zach Wilson — were either battling nagging injuries or sick.

Wilson has struggled in three games since having surgery on his throwing hand, but he’ll likely get the start. There’s also uncertainty about BYU’s kicking game, with the potential for Skyler Southam to be replaced by Jake Oldroyd after Southam missed two field goals in the Cougars’ regular-season finale.

Hawaii News & Notes

Led by senior quarterback Cole McDonald, who was Hawaii’s third-string quarterback at the beginning of last year, the Rainbow Warriors finished the regular season with the sixth-best passing attack in the nation. A lot of those yards were generated early in the year, however, as McDonald passed for 300-plus yards in five of his first seven starts.

In his last six outings, McDonald has been held under 250 yards five times while throwing for just five touchdowns and four interceptions. In the Warriors’ 31-10 loss to Boise State in the Mountain West championship game, McDonald was sacked three times and ran 12 times for minus-11 yards while failing to throw a TD for just the second time all season.

Hawaii’s late-season passing struggles are reflected in the team’s performance against the total, going UNDER in three of its final four games after going OVER in seven of its first 10.

Betting Pick: UNDER 62.5

McDonald’s recent struggles for Hawaii, combined with BYU’s uncertainty at quarterback, have me anticipating a lower-scoring affair.

Shark Bites
  • Buffalo is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games.
  • Hawaii is 7-23 SU in its last 30 games as a home underdog.
  • The OVER has hit in 6 of Hawaii’s last 9 games.