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2021 Hawaii Bowl will not be played after Hawaii opts out

UH cited an uptick in COVID cases, as well as transfers and injuries, that led to the decision to not play.

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 19 Hawaii at Fresno State Photo by Rick Dodd/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

College football’s greatest Christmas Eve tradition will not transpire in 2021. The EasyPost Hawaii Bowl is the first bowl game this season to receive a cancelation.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg at 10:03 p.m. ET on Dec. 23, Hawaii withdrew from its Dec. 24 postseason matchup against Memphis due to a recent increase of COVID-19 cases, as well as an onslaught of injuries and transfers.

Hawaii follows Texas A&M as the second team to opt out of its bowl game this season. Memphis already made the trip to Hawaii, and unless any schedule adjustments are made, the Tigers’ season is over at 6-6.

The Hawaii Bowl released an official statement Thursday night, less than 24 hours before kickoff. This is the second consecutive season the Hawaii Bowl will not operate, although in 2020, the bowl was canceled before a matchup was set.

Prior to the cancelation, Memphis was slated as 10-point favorites* over Hawaii, per DraftKings, in a spread which kept increasing as time progressed. Hawaii had won two of its last three bowl games as underdogs and until the cancelation was made official Thursday night, the Rainbow Warriors were looking to overcome the odds again.

There will be no bowl game played on Dec. 24 and bowl season continues on Christmas Day with the Camellia Bowl between Georgia State and Ball State.

* Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.