One of these teams smashed preseason expectations and the other did as well as projected, yet it’s not easy to decipher between the two. That’s also seen in the spread as it was a pick ‘em a week before the Game with an over/under of 60.5 for the Hawai’i Bowl.
The Rainbow Warriors (5-7-1 ATS) had tons of turn over going into the season and destroyed their 3.5-win over/under by going 8-5. Even then, Louisiana Tech (6-6 ATS) still had a better number against the spread even though it pushed on its over/under of seven wins
The biggest worry for Bulldog backers is that their only win against a team with a winning record (North Texas) came back in September. Otherwise, they closed on a sOur note losing three of their last Four with the finale being a 15-point loss to a three-win Western Kentucky team. It wasn’t much different for Hawaii since its only win against a winning team came in the season finale at SDSU. It hit a rough patch and lost Four straight against the best teams in the MWC, but closed on a good note and will look to carry that into this Game. In the only like opponent, LA. Tech beat Rice 28-13 late in the year, and Hawaii won 43-29 in the first month of the season.
Defense could be lacking in this Game even though Louisiana Tech’s numbers are respectable, allowing just 23.8 points per contest. Some of that can be attributed to the opponents because it had one of the easier Schedules in C-USA. Either way, the Rainbow Warriors put points on the board against most teams. It struggled a bit during the losing streak, but they also scored 31 at SDSU in the finale. The offense is based around sophomore quarterback Cole McDonald and he’s been excellent in head coach Nick Rolovich’s system. He’s thrown for 35 touchdowns and only eight interceptions on 8.17 yards per attempt. John Ursua (1,343 yards, 16 TDs), Cedric Byrd (9 TDs) and JoJo Ward (9 TDs) all had solid seasons while no running back had more than 500 yards. The Warriors ran for just 3.8 yards per carry and McDonald (370 rushing yards) was one of the best sOurces of ground production. Freshman Miles Reed closed the year as the top running back, but it may not matter who gets carries.
Most of LA. Tech’s defensive issues came on the ground so that doesn’t help Hawaii. The Bulldogs gave up less than 200 passing yards per Game and 6.5 yards per attempt and defensive end Jaylon Ferguson led the nation with 15 sacks, which could be an issue for a team that loves to pass. On the other end, the Warriors gave up points for fun, allowing 35.4 per Game, stopping neither the pass nor the rush.
The question is if Tech can capitalize on that because this offense rarely scored more than 30 points. Quarterback J’Mar Smith (14 TDs, 9 INTs) had five touchdowns in the final eight Games. Running back Jaqwis Dancy (5.6 ypc, 9 TDs) had fine numbers, yet managed just seven carries in the last two Games. The rushing attack averaged 3.8 yards per carry and couldn’t do anything in the final Game. It’d be easy to assume that Louisiana Tech can Scoreon this defense, but after scoring only 15 points against Western Kentucky, among other bad performances, it’s a wonder how this group will perform.
The Rainbow Warriors are 1-4 ATS in their last five against C-USA and 9-23 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The Bulldogs have won their last Four bowl Games and are 5-1 ATS in their last six bowls. However, they haven’t covered in their last Four on field turf and this is basically a road Game. There are trends between these teams because they used to be in the same conference, but it’s hard to take those numbers into account since the last time they played was 2011.
Our Pick – Hawaii pk