On Christmas Eve the bowl season continues as the BYU Cougars (7-5) and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (9-5) will meet up in the Hawaii Bowl. Despite it being a bowl game, it is being played on the Rainbow Warriors home field at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium. In the history of these two playing each other, BYU has had Hawaii’s number going 23-8, but Hawaii is looking to upset the Cougars on their home field. Kickoff for this one is scheduled for Tuesday at 8:00 pm ET.
For the BYU Cougars, it has been an up and down season. They do have big wins over teams like No. 22 USC (30-27) and No. 19 Boise State (28-25) this season, but have also had letdowns like their last game, a 13-3 loss to San Diego State. On the plus side for BYU, they should have their full roster intact as everyone is expected to play, but who exactly plays under center is still up for grabs. Zach Wilson had surgery on his throwing hand and has not performed well since returning. While Wilson will likely start, it will be interesting to see if head coach Kalani Sitake will be able to stick with him for the whole game.
For Hawaii, they finished in first place in the Mountain West – West conference, but ultimately lost big in the conference championship 31-10 to Boise State. While the Rainbow Warriors did not have any wins against ranked opponents this season, they still finished at a very solid 9-5.
The BYU Cougars come into this one as 1.5-point favorites despite playing the road game. The over/under on total points scored is set at 64.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, it is the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors who hold the advantage. They rank 24th in the nation in scoring averaging 33.5 points per game (35.4 at home). For BYU, they come in 73rd overall averaging 26.7 points per game (29 on the road).
On the defensive side, it is the BYU Cougars who hold the advantage. They rank 51st in the nation in opponent’s points per game allowing an average of 25.7 (22 on the road). For Hawaii, they come in 99th in the country allowing an average of 32.9 points per game to opponents (35 at home).
BYU Looks To Wilson To Lead Them To Victory
Sophomore starting quarterback Zach Wilson has had a rough season battling injury but has worked his way back onto the field. Still, despite being healthy enough to play, the results haven’t always been there. On the season, he has thrown for 2,108 yards, 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
The leading receivers for the Cougars this season are Micah Simon, Matt Bushman and Talon Shumway. For Simon, he has 46 receptions for 560 yards and 2 scores. For Bushman, he has 41 receptions, 597 yards and 4 scores. Lastly, for Shumway, he has 40 receptions for 539 yards and 4 scores.
Hawaii Looks To Defend Their Home Field
In what will be senior Cole McDonald’s last game, he is certainly looking to go out on a high point. It has been a tale of two halves of the season as McDonald was dominant in the first half, but has been more pedestrian in the second. Still, he will look to lead the Rainbow Warriors to a bowl win on their home field. On the year, McDonald has thrown for 3,642 yards, 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He has also added 393 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns.
On the ground, Miles Reed has been the leader for Hawaii. He has rushed for 891 yards and 8 touchdowns this season.
Through the air, McDonald has had a few receivers that have excelled this year. Cedric Byrd III has led all receivers with 95 catches for 1,068 yards and 10 touchdowns. In addition to Byrd, Jared Smart (80 receptions, 987 yards, 3 touchdowns), Jason-Matthew Sharsh (80 receptions, 823 yards, 4 touchdowns) and JoJo Ward (58 receptions, 975 yards, 11 touchdowns) have all been exceptional.
Taking Hawaii And The Points
Because of a rough second half for McDonald, both of these quarterbacks come in with questions to answer about how they will play in this one. Still, I like the chances of Hawaii’s offense as a whole to put up points and playing at home will be a big boost. Don’t get me wrong, BYU has been pretty solid in their past at bowl games, especially when favored, but for my money, I am taking Hawaii and the 1.5 points in this one.