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Hawaii will play Middle Tennessee in the 2016 Hawaii Bowl

The ‘Bows make their first bowl game since 2010

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Hawaii (6-7)

The Rainbow Warriors are set to face Middle Tennessee in their first bowl game since the 2010 Hawaii Bowl when they faced Tulsa and lost 62-35. Hawaii finished 6-7 under first year head coach Nick Rolovich, improving greatly from last seasons 3-10 record. Hawaii started the season 1-3 after traveling great distances between Hawaii, Australia and the mainland United States, while defense struggled mightily.

The defense still struggled throughout the season, ranking 119th in total defense and 125th in rush defense but one player to watch is sophomore linebacker Jahlani Tavai who was first team all MW. The start of conference play was also accompanied by a change at quarterback with Dru Brown replacing Ikaika Woolsey. Brown finished the season with 2,214 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The quarterback changed helped lead to turn around on offense that took some pressure off the defense.

The key to Hawaii offense is to get the run game going with their staple of running backs along with the scrambling ability of Dru Brown, who rushed for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Diocemy Saint Juste was the star of the ‘Bows backfield this season rushing for 836 yards and three touchdowns. Paul Harris rushed for 537 yards with two touchdowns, while Steven Lakalaka added 415 yards with touchdowns as the teams power back. The rushing attack allows Hawaii to set up the pass with WR’s Marcus Kemp, John Ursua and Dylan Collie.

Date and time: Dec. 24th 8pm ET


Streaming: WatchESPN

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Stadium: Aloha Stadium

Middle Tennessee (8-4, C-USA)

The Blue Raiders finished third in C-USA east but bring a high-powered offense into the bowl game averaging 40.1 points per game. Starting quarterback Brent Stock-still finished the season passing for 2801 yards with 27 touchdowns and only five interceptions, but he suffered a broken collarbone during the season. There is a chance that Stock-still could be back for the bowl game but if he can not go freshman John Urzua is likely to be the starter. Urzua has seen action in five games this season completing 78 passes for 816 yards with 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

Middle Tennessee’s offense is a balanced attack with senior running back I'Tavius Mathers rushing for 1504 yards and 16 touchdowns. Another weapon to watch out for is wide receiver Richie James who has caught 97 passes for 1463 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also being a threat on the ground rushing for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. Six receivers on Middle Tennessee have double digit receptions, the teams second leading receiver is Ty Lee with 53 catches for 599 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Middle Tennessee defense ranks 91st in total defense, 83rd against the rush and 88th against the pass. Both defenses in this matchup have allowed similar points per game with the Blue Raiders allowing 34.4 points per game, while Hawaii has allowed 37.5.

The Hawaii Bowl will be broadcast on ESPN at 8pm and is the only game on Dec. 24th, the matchup should supply plenty of action when these two offenses face off on the island.