Hawai’i (9-5) features one of the most prolific passing attacks in the nation, led by Cole McDonald, who ranks 5th in FBS with 3,642 yards this season. McDonald is coming off his worst game of the season, posting a season-low rating in the 31-10 Mountain West Championship loss to Boise State. Cedric Byrd II and JoJo Ward are dangerous weapons on the outside and have combined for 21 receiving touchdowns this season. The Rainbow Warrior defense has settled down after allowing at least 50 points in three of the first six games.
BYU (7-5) won five of their last six games to get bowl eligible for the 14th time in the last 15 years. The Cougars were forced to start three different starting quarterbacks this season due to various injuries. Zach Wilson will make his 4th consecutive start of the season in the bowl game. Wilson threw for a season-high 316 yards in BYU’s last game, a 13-3 loss to San Diego State. The Cougars feature an opportunistic defense that is tied for 9th in FBS with 15 interceptions and is 18th with 22 forced turnovers.
ESPN’s FPI gives BYU a 53.7% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Tuesday’s Hawai’i Bowl between the Rainbow Warriors and Cougars.
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Hawai’i vs. BYU Game Details
Date: Tuesday, December 24
Time: 800 p.m. ET
Location: Aloha Stadium (Honolulu, Hawai’i)
Spread: BYU -1.5
This line opened at BYU -3.5 and has been bet down to BYU -1.5 despite the majority of bets and money coming in on the Cougars. This indicates a reverse line move favoring Hawai’i.
- Hawai’i is 9-5 SU and 7-7 ATS this season
- BYU is 7-5 SU and 4-8 ATS this season
- Over is 8-6 in Hawai’i games this season
- Over is 5-5-1 in BYU games this season
Analysis & Pick
This is a familiar spot for Hawai’i, who lost this bowl game on their home field to Louisiana Tech last season 31-14. The Bulldogs were a slight 1.5-point favorite and the total was 62, which is a mirror image of this year’s spread and total. The difference this time around is Cole McDonald, who is much improved since his poor performance in last year’s Hawai’i Bowl which saw him throw two interceptions and get benched midway through the game. I think the Rainbow Warrior offense controls the tempo, and BYU will struggle to keep up. I’m not overly impressed with BYU’s roster, and the Cougars might have a quarterback controversy brewing if Wilson gets off to a poor start like he did against San Diego State in the season finale, turning it over 3 times. Hawai’i can lock up its first 10-win season since 2010, which is mighty impressive considering we are just two years removed from head coach Nick Rolovich winning three games in his second season on the sidelines. The ‘Bows improve to 5-4 all-time in the Hawai’i Bowl and score a signature win on Christmas Eve.
PICK: Hawai’i ML (+105)
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith