Date: Saturday, December 22, 2018
Kickoff Time: 9:30 P.M. CT
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Stadium: Aloha Stadium
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Series Record: Hawaii leads 8-2
Last Meeting: Hawaii won 44-26 in 2011
Betting Line: Hawaii -1
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will try for their fifth-straight bowl win when they face the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in the SoFi Hawaii Bowl on Saturday.
Although technically a bowl game, it will be a de facto home game for the Bows, as the game is in their home stadium. This is Louisiana Tech’s first appearance in the Hawaii Bowl, but they are familiar with Aloha Stadium and the Warriors after the two schools spent 11 years together in the Western Athletic Conference from 2001 to 2011.
The Bulldogs are limping into bowl season having lost their last two games and three of the last four. However, it should also be noted that the Dawgs had their bye in week three, meaning they had to play 10 straight games without a break.
Hawaii comes into this game with a little more momentum having won their last two games, including an overtime road win against San Diego State.
These two teams looked quite different throughout the season. Hawaii clearly has the better offense, averaging over 430 yards per game. The Rainbow Warriors broke 40 points five times this season, although all of those games came before October. While it’s true that the last two occasions were against an FCS foe and in a 5-overtime game, Louisiana Tech only broke 40 once all year.
The UH offense runs through its quarterback, Cole McDonald. The sophomore has almost 3800 passing yards and 35 touchdowns. He also leads the team in rushing attempts with 124 carries for 370 yards and four touchdowns.
The other big threat for the Bows is slot receiver John Ursua. The junior has over 1300 yards and 16 receiving touchdowns. The entire La Tech receiving corps has just 15 receiving scores. The fact he plays on the inside means that Tech can’t just stick Amik Robertson on him, so it will be interesting to see how they defend him.
Speaking of defense, while UH has the better offense, the Tech defense has put up the better numbers this year. The Bulldog defense holds opposing quarterbacks to an average of fewer than 200 passing yards per game, and it has allowed 30 points to a non-SEC team only once, while holding four opponents under 20.
Louisiana Tech is top 15 in the nation in sacking the quarterback, and that is all thanks to Jaylon Ferguson. The senior defensive end has already broken the Tech single-season sack record, which he set himself as a sophomore. More importantly, he needs just two sacks in his final collegiate game to break the NCAA career sack record. Tech probably needs him to break that record in order to slow down McDonald and this Hawaii passing offense.
Offensively, Tech needs a big game from the running backs, particularly Jaqwis Dancy. Hawaii allows an average of over 200 rushing yards per game, so Tech should be able to run the ball at will.
For Louisiana Tech to win this game, they need to keep this to a low-scoring affair. Tech’s defense needs to get after McDonald and limit Hawaii’s chances to score. If they can do that, they just need the offense to be respectable. Score a couple of times and don’t turn the ball over.
If the Bulldog defense can’t slow down the Hawaii offense, Tech hasn’t shown that it is capable of keeping up in a shootout.
The spread for this game has Hawaii as a slight favorite, but FPI gives Tech the slight edge. The experts seem to look at this game as a toss-up. Louisiana Tech has never won in Aloha Stadium, but Skip Holtz’s Bulldog teams are 4-0 in bowl games. This game could go either way, but never count out Louisiana Tech in bowl season.