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Hawai’i Bowl: Memphis Tigers vs. Hawaii Rainbows

The Memphis Tigers know a little about playing in close games as they went 4-4 in one-score games. The Tigers allowed at least 30 points in each of those four losses.

Hawai’s has won three of the last four bowls it has played in including the last two. In its most recent bowl appearance, the Rainbows defeated Houston, who like Memphis plays in the American Athletic Conference.

Memphis vs. Hawai’i
Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

Memphis felt short of its expected win total of eight and despite having the third-best college football odds to win the American Athletic Conference, the Tigers finished tied for seventh.

Game: Memphis (6-6) vs. Hawai’i (6-7)
Location: Toyota Stadium
Day/Time: Friday, Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET
Television: ESPN

Betting Lines

Team Point Spread Moneyline Over/Under
Memphis -7½ (-110) -275 58½ (-110o)
Hawai’i +7½ (-110) +235 58½ (-110u)

Henigan Looks to cap Freshman Season in Style

Freshman quarterback Seth Henigan certainly made a good first impression for Memphis.

In his second collegiate game, first against an FBS opponent, Henigan tossed five touchdown passes and threw for 417 yards in a wild 55-50 win over Arkansas State. Two more touchdown passes followed when the Tigers picked a win over Mississippi State out of the Southeastern Conference.

Things got a little more challenging during a three-game losing streak when Henigan had three interceptions and the Tigers’ defense allowed 31, 34, and 35 points against Texas-San Antonio, Temple, and Tulsa. The Temple loss did not age well as it was the only conference win of the season for the Owls.

Henigan had six 300-yard passing games including one in a 33-28 win over Tulane that made the Tigers bowl eligible. He’ll have to do things a little differently as leading receiver Calvin Austin opted out of the Hawai’i Bowl so Henigan will have to spread the ball around a little bit more. He will be facing a Hawai’i defense that allowed more than 375 passing yards in five games this season.

Memphis has failed to cover against the Las Vegas odds in its last nine road games.

Injury Report

Defensive lineman John Cartwright and running back Brandon Thomas are questionable. Receiver Calvin Austin has declared for the NFL draft and opted out of the bowl game. Defensive lineman Greg Emerson, offensive lineman Austin Myers, running back Kylan Watkins are out.

Three Players to Watch

Henigan has passed for 3,322 yards with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has six 300-yard passing games. Tight end Sean Dykes has 48 catches for 657 yards and seven touchdowns. He could play an even larger role with leading receiver Calvin Austin not playing in the game. Linebacker JJ Russell led the American Athletic Conference with 123 tackles.

Milestones Within Reach

It was two seasons ago that Hawai’i had three 1,000-yard receivers. Who knows the next time the Rainbows will accomplish that feat but they could end the Hawai’i Bowl with a pair of players topping the 1,000-yard mark.

Receiver Nick Mardner leads Hawai’i with 913 yards on 46 catches while running back Calvin Turner has 876 yards. Turner’s season has been especially intriguing as he has the same number of rushing attempts (73) as he does catches. Turner has three catches in every game.

It isn’t too hard to figure out how Turner will be utilized most of the time as he had 10 carries or more in just three games. He had either one or two rushing attempts three times in a four-game stretch before carrying the ball eight times in the Rainbows’ game against Wyoming on November 27.

The scores and odds total have gone under in 10 of the last 15 games when Hawai’i is listed as the underdog.

Injury Report

No significant injuries were reported.

Three Players to Watch

Quarterback Chevan Cordiero had thrown for 2,793 yards and 17 touchdowns and added 342 rushing yards. Linebacker Darius Muasau has 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and seven sacks. Receiver Nick Marder is averaging 19.9 yards on 46 receptions.

Betting on the Game

The magic number for Hawai’i is 38. When Hawai’i scores at least 38 points, the Rainbows are 6-0 but are 1-6 when held under that number. Hawai’i has 88 points in the last two games as four of the last six games went over the college football picks total.

Scoring in the red zone has been an issue for Memphis as the Tigers have 26 touchdowns on 45 red-zone trips

The total has gone over in four of Hawai’i’s last six games while 11 of Memphis’ last 16 games have gone under the total.

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