Bowl season is among us, and one game will be played on Christmas Eve is the New Mexico Bowl. The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (4-4) will be taking on the Houston Cougars (3-4) at Toyota Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 3:30 pm ET.
Even though the Mountain West did not get started until October 24, the Rainbow Warriors were able to play their modified schedule without a hitch. Coming into this bowl game, they have won two of their last three, including a 38-21 win over UNLV two weeks ago.
While Hawaii had few interruptions in their schedule from COVID-19, the Cougars couldn’t seem to escape hiccups in the schedule. In fact, they had to deal with eight games that had some adjustment made to it (either canceled or rescheduled). Still, coach Dana Holgorsen and the Cougars were able to get seven games in and look to win this last one to bring their overall record to .500.
Despite the losing record, Houston comes into this one as the overwhelming favorites. They are -430 to win while Hawaii’s moneyline is +320. The spread features the Rainbow Warriors +10.5 while the over/under for total points is 59.5.
By The Numbers
In terms of scoring, Houston holds the advantage this season. They are ranked 36th in the nation averaging 32.3 points per game. The Rainbow Warriors rank 81st, averaging 26 points per game.
Defensively, it is Hawaii who holds the edge. In terms of scoring defense, they rank 66th overall, allowing an average of just 29.2 points per game to opponents. Houston ranks 86th, allowing 32.6 points.
Hawaii Looks To Play Spoiler As Double-Digit Underdogs
Hawaii is coming into this one as the underdogs, but don’t tell head coach Todd Graham that as he will have the Rainbow Warriors ready to finish the season off on a strong note.
Leading the way for Graham’s offense is quarterback Chevan Cordeiro. The sophomore quarterback can do a little bit of everything as he leads the team in both passing yards and rushing yards.
Through the air, he has thrown for 1,947 yards, 11 touchdowns, and six interceptions. His best receiver comes out of the backfield in running back Calvin Turner (29 receptions, 458 yards, five touchdowns). Other notables are Jared Smart (287 yards, one touchdown) and Rico Bussey (274 yards, one touchdown).
On the ground, Cordeiro has rushed 108 times for 450 yards and seven scores. Running backs Miles Reed (346 yards, one touchdown), Calvin Turner (271 yards, four touchdowns), and Dae Dae Hunter (139 yards, two touchdowns) have also gotten in the mix this season.
Houston Trying To Finish Season On High Note
The Houston Cougars have not won a bowl game since 2015, so what better way to end a disappointing regular season than ending with a bowl game victory. That is what coach Holgorsen and the Coogs will try to do on Thursday.
Leading the way offensively for Houston is quarterback Clayton Tune. On the season, he has thrown for 1,832 yards, 13 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He has also rushed 62 times for 269 yards and another five scores.
The leading receiver for Tune has been Keith Corbin (352 yards, one touchdown) but watch out for Marquez Stevenson and Tre’Von Bradley. Those two are arguably the best wide receivers on the team but have only played in five games this season.
Still, Stevenson leads the team with four touchdowns to go along with 307 yards, and Bradley has 214 yards on just 16 receptions. Both are expected to play in this contest.
On the ground, the leader for the Cougars has been Kyle Porter. He has rushed 96 times for 394 yards and four touchdowns.
Taking Hawaii and The Points
I can’t exactly say that either of these teams inspires too much confidence. Both have had mediocre seasons and are lucky to even be playing in a bowl game.
While it is worth noting that two of Houston’s losses came against top-25 teams in No. 8 Cincinnati and No. 16 BYU, they haven’t exactly dominated otherwise. I do think they have enough to win this game, but 10.5 points seem like a lot to be spotting Hawaii.
Take the Rainbow Warriors and the points in this one.