The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, of the Mountain West Conference, and Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, of the C-USA, square of in the 2016 Hawaii Bowl.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
The Rainbow Warriors had the benefit of playing 13 games, but finished 6-7. Their bad losses includes games against UNLV and Arizona. They have one good win, which came against Air Force. Hawaii wasn’t expected to get anywhere near a bowl game this season, so they overachieved.
Dru Brown took over the quarterback position after a quarter of the season. His 2,214 passing yards aren’t great, but he completed 62% of his passes, making him efficient. He has a 15 to seven touchdown to interception ratio, which isn’t impressive. He does add the ability to run with 283 yards on the ground.
Wide receiver Marcus Kemp is the best receiver on the Rainbow Warriors with 1,036 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
Hawaii has three running backs who have been productive with over 400 yards rushing yards. Diocemy Saint Juste has he most yardage with 836 rushing yards, while Steven Lakalaka has the most rushing touchdowns with 12.
The run defense for Hawaii is awful, giving up 244 rushing yards per game. Fortunately the pass defense is average, allowing 212 yards passing.
Sophomore linebacker Jahlani Tavai has been a monster on defense. He has 80 solo tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
The Blue Raiders finished the season at 8-4. They have a good win over Louisiana Tech, but that is their only win over an above .500 team. All of their losses came at the hands of bowl eligible teams, except for their game against Marshall.
The head coach of Middle Tennessee Rick Stockstill has his son, Brent Stockstill as the quarterback. He is hurt, but is supposed to play through the pain. Stockstill threw for 2,801 yards passing and 27 touchdowns. He shows the intelligence of a coach’s son, by only throwing five interceptions.
Richie James is Stockstill’s best target with 1,436 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. He also has a few carries for 300 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, showing his versatility.
At running back the Blue Raiders also have a guy who can do multiple things, I’Tavius Mathers. The Ole Miss transfer rushed for 1,504 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also added 589 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.
Middle Tennessee has a below average rush defense, giving up almost 200 rushing yards per game. The defense is also below average in pass defense allowing nearly 250 yards per game.
Jeremy Curtrer is a solid corner for the Blue Raiders with 56 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss and three interceptions.
Mathers will have a big day against a bad Hawaii run defense and Stockstill will protect the football. The Blue Raiders will win comfortably.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 34 Hawaii Rainbow Warriors 21