The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors will open up the new season on the road against the Massachusetts Minutemen. Kickoff is set for 6:00 EST on Saturday, August 26th at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium. It just so happens that these two teams closed out the 2016 regular season against each other. Hawaii escaped with a 46-40 win, but did fail to cover as a 7-point favorite.
Hawaii vs Massachusetts Betting Line & Game Preview
The Warriors ended up with a surprising 7-7 record in the first year under head coach Nick Rolovich in 2016. That win over UMass was the victory that got them into a bowl game for the first time since 2010. Not many expected Rolovich to have that kind of success out of the gate.
Hawaii had gone just 11-39 over the previous 4 years, never winning more than 4 games in a single season. Shockingly, the big turnaround didn’t translate to a big payday at the betting window. The Warriors went a mere 5-8-1 ATS, though it was an improvement off their 3-10 mark in 2015. Plenty of reason for Hawaii to be optimistic about the upcoming season. The Warriors return 14 starters, including talented sophomore QB Dru Brown.
Things didn’t go so smoothly for the Minutemen in 2016, as they managed just two wins in a 2-10 campaign. One of those coming in a win over FCS foe Wagner. The big thing to keep in mind is that it was the first year for UMass as an Independent after previously playing in the MAC.
They went from playing two “Power 5” programs in 2015 to facing four. They also had just 9 returning starters. This year they have 15 starters back and should be improved for what will be Mark Whipple 4th year on the job.
Want to get some action on this one? Right now the oddsmakers have this one listed at a pick’em with a total at 64.5 points. Note that when Vegas first released the odds for Week 1 games, Hawaii was a 3-point favorite. Click here for more betting odds and game previews for opening week.
Free College Football Pick: Over 64.5
I don’t see a ton of value on the spread in this one. I think the oddsmakers are spot on with making this a pick’em, as it could easily go either way. If I had to make a play on this one right now, I would to take the OVER at 64.5. These two teams combined for 86 points and more than 900 yards of total offense in their meeting last year.
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Hawaii has 8 starters back on offense, which made a huge jump from 17.6 ppg in 2015 to 28.3 ppg in 2017. Keep in mind that Brown wasn’t even the starter to open the season. The Warriors did whatever they wanted against UMass last year. Brown was 22 of 30 for 311 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Hawaii also rushed for 168 yards on 33 attempts (5.1 ypg). Even with the Minutemen returning 9 starters on defense, that’s still a below average unit that’s going to give up a ton of points.
As for the UMass offense, I believe they too are only going to be better in 2017. While the numbers took a dip last year, a lot of that had to do with playing a much more difficult schedule. They too return their starting QB in Andrew Ford, who put up solid numbers last year (2,665 yards, 26 TDs).
He gets back his top two weapons in Adam Braneman (70 catches, 808 yards, 8 TDs) and Andy Isabella (62 catches, 801 yards, 7 TDs). Massachusetts also returns leading rusher Marquis Young (898 yards, 4.6 ypc).
I look for both of these teams to have little trouble moving the football. Most importantly, these are two teams that are built around the passing game, which is ideal for high-scoring games.
Shouldn’t see either team eating up the clock with long drives. It also leads to a lot more explosive plays and potential for quick scores via turnovers. I would be surprised if both teams didn’t eclipse the 30-point mark.
It’s also worth noting that the OVER is a perfect 6-0 in Hawaii’s last 6 non-conference games and 6-2 in their last 8 away from home. OVER is also a solid 4-1 in the Minutemen’s last 5 away contests.