The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (7-5) will visit the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (8-5) in the 2018 Hawaii Bowl. Kickoff is set for 10:30 EST on Saturday, December 22nd at Aloha Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN.
Oddsmakers currently have Hawaii listed as a slim 1-point home favorite with the total set for 61 points.
Louisiana Tech vs Hawaii Vegas Betting Line & Game Preview
The Bulldogs closed out the regular season with back-to-back losses at Souther Miss and at home to Western Kentucky. Louisiana Tech dropped 3 of their final 4 overall. The loss to the Hilltoppers as a 10.5-point home favorite in the finale was especially painful who bet the Bulldogs OVER their win total of 7.
One of the things to keep in mind with the Bulldogs 7-5 finish, is that 2 of those were true road games at LSU and Mississippi State out of the SEC. They also lost to the best team in C-USA in 11-win UAB. Louisiana Tech has been to 4 bowl games under head coach Skip Holtz and have won all 4. Last year they beat SMU 51-10 as a 5-point dog in the Frisco Bowl.
The Rainbow Warriors were an amazing story this year. Hawaii had just 9 starters back from a team that went a mere 3-9 in 2017. Needless to say they were picked to finish near the basement of the Mountain West. The Rainbow Warriors instead won 8 games and finished with a winning record (5-3) in the MWC for the first time since 2010.
Hawaii did get invited to a bowl with a 6-7 record in head coach Nick Rolovich’s first year on the job in 2016. The Rainbow Warriors took full advantage of the opportunity, as they cruised to a 52-35 win over Middle Tennessee as a 7-point dog in none other than the Hawaii Bowl.
2018 Hawaii Bowl Free NCAAF Betting Prediction: Louisiana Tech +1
My early lean here would be to back the Bulldogs in this one. As nice as it is for Hawaii to being playing a home game for their bowl, I don’t think the home crowd will be enough to overcome the gap in talent here.
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At the time the season started it looked like Hawaii had pulled off a couple of nice wins over Colorado State and Navy, but turns out both of those programs were way down. The Rams finished 3-9 and Navy finished 3-10. In fact, the only win the Rainbow Warriors had was a 31-30 overtime win against San Diego State in the regular-season finale. That win looks less impressive given how much the Aztecs struggled in the 2nd half of the season and we just watched them get shutout by Ohio in their bowl game.
You can’t just discredit a team for playing an easy schedule, but the problem is Hawaii really struggled against the good teams they played. They lost by 26 to BYU, 18 to Nevada, 30 to Fresno State and 39 to Utah State. Both losses against Nevada and Utah State coming on their home field.
We also saw a Hawaii offense that was the talk of college football early on, manage to eclipse 30 points just once in regulation over their final 7 games. I think the Warriors will struggle to get that offense going against a solid Louisiana Tech defense. The Bulldogs finished 32nd in the country, giving up just 373 yards/game. They were also 30th against the pass, allowing just 193.6 passing yards/game.
On the flip side of this, Hawaii’s lucky their offense was so good early, because they defense was a disaster. Hawaii was 101st in the country, giving up 438.7 ypg. They were manhandled up front, as they finished 106th against the run, allowing 207.5 yards/game.
Add in the fact that the Bulldogs are a perfect 4-0 in bowl games under head coach Skip Holtz and I think the wrong team is favored in this one. Give me Louisiana Tech +1.