The Hawai’i Bowl features a matchup between a home underdog and an unpredictable favorite.
Both the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and BYU Cougars head into the bowl game lacking momentum - each having a winning streak snapped in the final game of the season.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (+2) @ BYU Cougars, 8:00 PM:
- BYU has a 4-0 W/L record against Hawai’i since 2010.
- Each of Hawaii's last nine day games (HST) have gone OVER the total.
- BYU has a 54-19 W/L record as favorites since 2011. (Stats courtesy of Statschecker).
BYU and Hawai’i are former Western Athletic Conference rivals prior to the Rainbow Warriors joining the Mountain West Conference and the Cougars becoming independent in 2012.
BYU leads the overall series 23-8, which includes going 13-8 in Hawai’i.
The Cougars (7-5) had a rollercoaster season going 2-2 in four games against ranked opponents, defeating #14 Boise State and #24 USC by three points at home.
BYU was on a roll to end the season - after losing three straight, the Cougars picked up five consecutive wins heading into the final game of the year.
The streak would be snapped after failing to score a touchdown and losing to San Diego State 13-3.
Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson suffered a hand injury in Week 5 but returned for the final three games of the season, going 4-4 as a starter this season.
The sophomore finished the regular season with 2,108 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Hawaii (9-5) finished the year winning four of the last five games, but fell short in the Mountain West Conference Championship to #19 Boise State 31-10.
The Rainbow Warriors lost to all three of their ranked opponents, including Boise State twice and #23 Washington.
Junior quarterback Cole McDonald has been electric in the pocket this season, throwing for 3,642 passing yards which ranks eighth in the nation, 29 passing touchdowns (13th best in the FBS) and 14 interceptions.
Senior wide receiver Cedric Byrd II has been his go-to target this season, catching 95 passes which is tied for third best in the nation for 1,068 yards and 10 touchdowns.
My pick is the Cougars to cover the spread (-2) and the OVER Total of 64 points.
These teams have met in each of the last two seasons and the result remained the same - BYU winning by double digits.
Most recently, the Rainbow Warriors played the Cougars last season with both teams having most of the same units including starting quarterbacks McDonald and Wilson.
In that matchup, Wilson outdueled McDonald throwing for three touchdowns and added a rushing score in a 49-23 BYU win. McDonald completed 22-of-38 for 248 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Both these teams’ offenses are more than capable of scoring points behind experienced quarterbacks, and it especially won’t be an issue for BYU.
The Rainbow Warriors have struggled to keep teams off the scoreboard, allowing the 30th most points in the nation (31.7 ppg).
The Cougars have been beating up on Hawaii and I don’t expect this time around to be different.
The Rainbow Warriors will keep things close courtesy of home field advantage, but BYU has the better defense and should close the game out down the stretch.
Final score prediction: BYU Wins 35-31