Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan (14) throws in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
- Memphis is an 8.5-point favorite over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on Thursday
- Hawaii is 2-4-1 ATS in its last seven games
- Read below for odds, analysis and a betting prediction
Memphis (6-6) is an 8.5-point road favorite over host Hawaii in the Easy Post Hawaii Bowl on Thursday at 8 pm ET on ESPN. The Tigers are making their eighth consecutive bowl appearance, the best run among non-Power 5 teams.
Hawaii (6-7) will be without starting quarterback Chevan Cordeiro and leading rusher Dae Dae Hunter, who have entered the transfer portal. The game is still scheduled to be played despite Covid-19 issues that surfaced in the Rainbows’ program.
Memphis vs Hawaii Odds
|Memphis Tigers||-310||-8.5 (-110)||Over 55.5 (-110)|
|Hawaii Rainbows||+245||+8.5 (-110)||Under 55.5 (-110)|
Odds from DraftKings on Dec. 23rd
The line on this game has moved bigly since news of discord in the Hawaii program in early December. Memphis was a four-point favorite when the game opened but has sky-rocketed to its current state in the last two weeks as bettors seized on the opportunity to take advantage.
A five-point jump, especially against a home team, is unheard of except for in extreme circumstances. Trouble in paradise apparently qualifies.
Meet the New ‘Bows
Hawaii will be nowhere near the same team that at 6-7 qualified for a bowl game with a 38-14 victory over Wyoming in the final game of the Mountain West regular season.
Chevan Cordeiro and Dae Dae Hunter entered the transfer portal immediately after the regular season, and seven other players have since joined them in the portal in a mass exodus that will leave the Rainbow Warriors especially thin on the offensive side.
Cordeiro, who is transferring to San Jose State, completed 195 of 353 passes for 2,793 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while also rushing for 342 yards and three touchdowns. He will be replaced by freshman Brayden Schager, who saw action in five games and started two when Cordeiro was down because of a shoulder injury.
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Schager passed for 615 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions and was 1-1 in two starts. He threw four interceptions in a 34-17 loss to Nevada on Oct. 16 but rebounded by going 25 for 29 with 219 yards and no picks in a 48-34 nonconference victory over New Mexico on Oct. 24. but has thrown only seven passes since.
Hunter was one of two seemingly interchangeable backs, with 651 yards rushing and 163 receiving yards. Dedric Parson had 618 rushing yards and 280 receiving. Hunter was quoted in SF Gate as saying it was “best for my future and my mental health” to leave the program.
Some Rainbow Warriors’ remaining players said coach Todd Graham – who was alleged to have created an unhealthy culture that included favoritism and an inability to foster positive relationships in the locker room – has addressed the issues since they became public.
The Mountain West has won the first three of the conference-record eight bowl games this season, going 2-1 ATS. The Mountain West and Conference USA have matched up twice, with Fresno State beat UTEP 31-24 but failing to cover a 10-point spread and San Diego State winning and covering 38-24 against UTSA.
The Mountain West representative has been the New Mexico Bowl winner each of the past three seasons, and they’ve outscored their opponents by 90 points (128-38).
— Elias Sports Bureau (@EliasSports) December 18, 2021
Conference USA also sent eight schools to a bowl game and have gone 3-3 in the first six. Middle Tennessee State, Western Kentucky and UAB won and UTEP, Old Dominion, Marshall and UAB lost.
Memphis’ Bumpy Ride
After its best victory of the season against Mississippi State in the third week of the season, lost three in a row and six of the last nine, qualifying for a bowl game with a 33-28 victory over Tulane in the last game of the regular season.
True freshman quarterback Seth Henigan is 10th in the Division I in passing yards per game (302), 13th in total offense (315.4) and 18th in passing touchdowns (25), highest among true freshmen in all three.
Henigan will be without his most effective weapon, consensus first-team all-AAC wide receiver Calvin Austin III, who opted out of the game to prepare for the NFL draft. He had 74 receptions for 1,149 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Right guard Dylan Parham, another first-team all-AAC choice, has not allowed a sack this season in 545 pass protection snaps. All-AAC tight end Sean Dykes has 48 receptions for 657 yards and seven touchdowns.
— Memphis Football (@MemphisFB) December 1, 2021
Hawaii Bowl Betting Trends
The teams have never met. Hawaii won five of its final nine games after starting 1-3 to make its fourth straight bowl game. Memphis beat Tulane 33-28 in the regular-season finale to qualify.
After beating FAU 25-10 in the 2020 Montgomery Bowl. Memphis is looking to win bowl games in back-to-back season for the first time in program history. Memphis is 2-5 this season against teams who made a bowl, beating Mississippi State and SMU. Memphis is giving up 29.3 points per game. while Hawaii is permitting 31.4.
Both teams are missing quality starters, and the Mountain West has played in the bowl games. The public’s dramatic move to Memphis is a bit of an over-reaction.
- The pick: Hawaii +8.5 (-110)
Jack has covered college and professional sports for various Arizona media outlets and has written for the AP, USA Today and Baseball America, among others. He staffed the 2015-17 World Series and has staffed four Super Bowls.