Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee – Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET
At full strength, this game isn’t even all that close in favor of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors come into bowl season with a losing record and having been relatively unimpressive to close out the regular season. But where they might catch a break is that the Blue Raiders are still unsure if quarterback Brent Stockstill, who broke his collarbone earlier in the season, will be back for this game. If not, that’s a big—pardon the phrase—break for the Rainbow Warriors.
Even still, I’m not sure Hawaii can contend with the prowess of Middle Tennessee running back I’Tavius Mathers, who transferred from Ole Miss. With 1,504 yards rushing, 589 yards receiving, and 19 total touchdowns on the year, he’s a weapon that Hawaii can’t match and doesn’t have an answer for. Subsequently, the Blue Raiders win with or without Stockstill—but by a wide margin if he does play.
Prediction: Hawaii: 23, Middle Tennessee: 38
St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (OH) vs. Mississippi State – Dec. 26, 11 a.m. ET
There are some who will denounce the fact that the Mississippi State Bulldogs are even in a bowl game after a 5-7 season—most of those people residing in Oxford, I’d presume. Yet, here they are and they have a chance to put a bowl win as a feather in their cap as they look to build towards new heights in the post-Dak Prescott era. In doing so, they’ll rely on sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to get it done almost single-handedly, as they did most of the season.
Fitzgerald threw for 2,287 yards and 21 scores, but also rushed for 1,243 yards and 14 more touchdowns. He’s a true weapon for the Bulldogs and has beaten teams far better than the Miami (OH) RedHawks this season. That said, the RedHawks have a real weapon that emerged in quarterback Gus Ragland. After taking over for Billy Bahl, Ragland came in and threw for 1,274 yards while tossing 15 touchdowns and a staggering zero interceptions. Even still, Fitzgerald should be the difference maker as I’m not sure Miami (OH) has the answer for him in this game.
Prediction: Miami (OH): 30, Mississippi State: 38