Hawaii Bowl Prediction: San Diego State vs. Middle Tennessee State Pick, Odds

One of the great things about the college football season is that you’ll often have a matchup between two very different, albeit mediocre, teams. That’s the case at the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve, when San Diego State (7-5) is a 6.5-point favorite over Middle Tennessee State (7-5). Both of these teams also come to Hawaii in good shape, as the Blue Raiders won their final three games of the season to become bowl eligible, while San Diego State won five of seven to close out the campaign.

And while these two teams have very different approaches on offense, there is one similarity between the Blue Raiders and the Aztecs – they both have strong defenses that should match their opposing attack well.

San Diego State vs. Middle Tennessee State pick (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): Less than 48.5 points (BetMGM)

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San Diego State has been one of the best defensive teams in the Group of 5 this season. In their last nine games of 2022, the Aztecs only allowed two teams to score more than 14 points, and they finished the campaign ranked 17th in rushing completion rate, 12th in rushing runs. finishing and were the 22nd best passing rush in the country according to Pro Football Focus.

That passing rush should be one of the keys to this contest, as Middle Tennessee State — which is heavily dependent on passing — has really struggled in the trenches. The Blue Raiders were the 120th-best pass-blocking team in the country this season, per PFF.

And if quarterback Chase Cunningham can get the ball out of his hands, he’ll have to navigate a defense that finished 31st in passing coverage, per PFF, and was the 33rd-best team in the nation at preventing explosive passing plays. .

Chase Cunningham
Chase Cunningham
Sportswire icon via Getty Images

On the other side of the ball, the Middle Tennessee State defense should be able to hang on with an offense that just liked to keep the ball on the ground. Only 21 teams ran the ball more than San Diego State this season, and the Aztecs weren’t that good at it. San Diego State ranked 113th in rushing completion rate, 122nd in rushing yards, and 122nd in finishing carries.

Middle Tennessee State should have no problem with this type of offense, as it finished the season in the top 50 in rushing percentage and top 30 in rushing yards.

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That said, the Aztecs showed signs of improvement over the streak, posting a combined 77 points against San Jose State and New Mexico, behind quarterback Jalen Mayden’s stellar performance.

Even with Mayden in good form, the Blue Raiders should be able to contain him as their defense finished 53rd in passing rush and 31st in coverage, per PFF.

All that to say, it’s hard to imagine any of these offenses could open this contest, so why not spend some time with your loved ones on Christmas Eve by betting an Under in a bowl at Honolulu.

San Diego State vs. Middle Tennessee State pick (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): Less than 48.5 points (BetMGM)

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