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Hawaii Bowl Preview: Middle Tennessee State vs. Hawaii

Can the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii take down the visiting Blue Raiders’ Dynamic Duo?

Hawaii v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Kickoff: December 24th, 3:00 pm HT

Location: Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI

Stream: ESPN

Series Record: 1-0 Hawaii

Betting Line: MTSU -7, O/U: 73 1/2

Last Meeting: 35-14 Hawaii (1993)

The Hawaii Bowl is just more than beautiful weather, a wonderful atmosphere and a Christmas Eve event. It’s a great match up between two programs striving for a bowl game win to setup momentum for bigger things in 2017.

Slithering in at 6-7, the Rainbow Warriors qualified with for a bowl berth with a win over UMass in able to host the 8-4 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, who themselves finished third in C-USA play. This will be the second time these two have played each other in 23 years.

I’m Rich James, Bi***

So the dynamic duo, as mentioned above is the tandem of Richie James and I’Tavius Mathers who have broke both the single season receiving and rushing record at MTSU, respectively . James has accumulated 1463 yards with 11 touchdowns while breaking single season records in just his second season with the Blue Raiders. Complimenting James is the Senior back I’Tavius Mathers whom in his own rushing campaign broke single season yardage records. Mathers rushed for 1504 yards, scored 19 offensive touchdowns and was the third leading receiver for the Raiders.

The Hawaii defense is 119th in the nation in defense and the fourth worst rushing defense allowing a staggering 243.8 yards a game on the ground. Look for the MTSU offense to have a field day. Especially now that starter Brent Stockstill has officially been cleared to play.

I Hope They Wear Those Cool Throwbacks

The Rainbow Warriors were not terribly impressive on paper in 2016 but obviously they became bowl eligible for a reason. Senior wide receiver Marcus Kemp caught seven touchdowns and eclipsed 1,000 yards for the first time proving to be a viable threat for the Rainbow Warriors.

To go with Kemp’s receiving threats is running back Steven Lakalaka who himself broke out in 2016 with 12 bullying touchdowns on the ground and the college football coolest name sake Diocemy Saint Juste leading the Rainbow Warriors with 836 yards on the ground. In order for Hawaii to stay in the game the efficient Dru Brown (15 touchdowns, seven interceptions) needs to play his usual efficiency to lead the Rainbow Warriors to a win as an underdog.

Kekemapa Underdogs

In order for Hawaii to win I expect the defense to change it’s ways and give the Blue Raiders a run for their money. MTSU quarterback Brent Stockstill was amazing this year with 27 touchdowns to five interceptions all while the Blue Raiders kept the ball away from the ground limiting their own turnovers. Overall look for the Rainbow Warriors to keep it close at first only to see their chances slip away at lets say, the fourth quarter. My prediction is a 40-17 Blue Raider Hawaii Bowl victory.