Hawaii vs Houston New Mexico Bowl | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Christmas Eve is always one of the slowest sports days of the year, and while there are no NBA, NHL or NFL games on Dec. 24 this year, there is one college football game: The New Mexico Bowl, which actually isn’t being played in New Mexico due to COVID-19 but Frisco near Dallas. Houston is a heavy favorite over Hawaii even though there have been rumors that the Cougars could be down around 20 players between opt-outs and eligibility issues.

How to Bet Hawaii vs. Houston NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Thursday, 3:30 PM ET
  • Where: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
  • TV: ESPN
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: Houston -13 (total 59.5)

Series History

Houston and Hawaii are meeting for the second time and first since Dec. 25, 2003, when Hawai’i outlasted Houston, 56-48 in three overtimes at the Hawaii Bowl.

Why Bet on Hawaii? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Hawaii (4-4), of the Mountain West, last played on Dec. 12 and beat UNLV 38-21. UH scored the first three touchdowns of the game and were never threatened in a game they led from wire-to-wire. The Warriors racked up 530 yards of total offense with 278 of them coming on the ground. Both totals were the second-highest of the season.

Chevan Cordeiro passed for 252 yards and rushed 88 more and two touchdowns in the win. The sophomore set the tone early with a 54-yard scoring run on just the second play from scrimmage. UH led at the end of the first quarter for the first time this season when it held a 7-0 advantage against the Rebels. UH entered the game having been out-scored 72-17 in the first quarter.

Linebacker Darius Muasau set a new career-high with 18 tackles, including 2.5 tackles-for-loss and a sack. The 18 tackles were the most by a Rainbow Warrior since Solomon Elimimian’s 20 tackles versus Utah State in 2007.

UH was one of only two Mountain West schools, along with Nevada, to have played every conference game on its schedule this season. The Warriors finished with a .500 or better record for the third straight year and fourth time in the last five seasons.

Cordeiro finished with 450 rushing yards on the year and is the first UH quarterback to lead the team in rushing since Michael Carter in 1991 (1,092 yards). Cordeiro scored a rushing touchdown in each of the final three games of the season and finished with a season high seven touchdowns on the ground for UH. The Rainbow Warriors are averaging 33.75 points in their four victories.

Hawai’i will make is 14th bowl game appearance, first in the New Mexico Bowl and only the third bowl game on the mainland in program history (1992 Holiday Bowl, 2007 Sugar Bowl). UH is 1-1 in mainland bowl games. Coach Todd Graham will coach in his 10th bowl game in his 13th season as an FBS head coach. He has directed all five of his programs to bowl appearances and sports a 5-4 bowl record.

Why Bet on Houston? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Houston (3-4), of Conference USA, lost 30-27 at Memphis in its regular-season finale on Dec. 12. The Cougars rallied from 21 points down in the final quarter to tie the game with 28 seconds remaining, but a Memphis field goal on the final play lifted the Tigers to the win. Houston converted all five of its fourth-down conversions, improving to 12-of-15 on fourth down this season. Houston’s 21 fourth quarter points marked its most since scoring 24 against Tulsa on Oct. 4, 2018.

QB Clayton Tune finished the game with 270 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 30-of-49 passing. With a 19-yard scamper against Memphis, Tune notched his eighth career rushing touchdown, fifth of the season and third in the last two games. Tune also now has 4,160 career passing yards, becoming the 14th Houston quarterback to notch 4,000 career passing yards. He has 31 TD passes, becoming the 14th Houston quarterback to throw for 30 or more.

Tune ranks 19th in the FBS in total offense, averaging 302.0 yards per game. The junior also ranks fourth in the league and 24th in the FBS in passing yards per game (261.7). Tune will become just the sixth UH quarterback in school history to start multiple bowl games as a Cougar. Tune started at quarterback in the 2018 Armed Forces Bowl against Army.

Junior Marcus Jones‘ 317 punt return yards this season are more than all other FBS teams have recorded this year. Houston leads the FBS with 342 punt return yards this season. Jones leads the American and ranks first in the FBS in punt return average (21.1). That average would rank as the second-best mark in UH single-season history.

Houston will make its 28th all-time appearance in a bowl game and first in the New Mexico Bowl. This will be seventh bowl appearance for the Cougars in the last eight seasons and the 14th since the year 2000. Houston also represents the first team from the American Athletic Conference to play in the New Mexico Bowl. The AAC joins teams from the Mountain West, Pac-12, WAC, Conference USA and MAC to appear in the contest.

Houston is 11-15-1 all-time in bowl games and is looking to snap a three-game losing streak during the bowl season. Sixteen of UH’s 27 previous bowl appearances have taken place in the state of Texas.

There have been rumors that Houston could be down around 20 players between opt-outs and eligibility issues.

Game Trends

  • Rainbow Warriors are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
  • Rainbow Warriors are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games in December.
  • Rainbow Warriors are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win.
  • Cougars are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 Thursday games.
  • Cougars are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 vs. MWC.

Expert Prediction

  • Houston 34, Hawaii 30

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