Two high-powered offenses meet in Frisco, Texas, after the New Mexico Bowl changed locations for this year
Hawaii and Houston will square off in the New Mexico Bowl on Christmas Eve in what should be a fun afternoon matchup between the Mountain West and AAC. The game will look a little different this year, though. Local and regional COVID-19 restrictions in the Albuquerque area have forced the game to relocate to Frisco, Texas, just outside of Dallas.
The Rainbow Warriors won two of their last three to close out the season, including a 38-21 win over UNLV to close out the regular season. They are led by sophomore quarterback Chevan Cordeiro. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has 1,941 passing yards and 450 rushing yards on the year, and has accounted for 18 touchdowns (11 passing, seven rushing) in eight games.
The Cougars have had as chaotic of a year as any team in college football this season. Coach Dana Holgorsen’s crew is 3-4 and had its first two games canceled before finally getting going on Oct. 8. The Cougars are giving up 5.9 yards per play this season, which has prevented them from staying in games on a consistent basis.
The two teams have only met once before — back in 2003 when Art Briles was in charge at Houston and June Jones at Hawaii. The Warriors won that game in a shootout 54-48. Will Friday’s game be more of the same or will some defense prevail in Frisco? Let’s take a closer look at the matchups and storylines to follow before making some expert picks both straight up and against the spread.
Houston: The Cougars have managed to put together a strong offensive season despite the early-season chaos. Quarterback Clayton tune has thrown for 1,832 yards and 13 touchdowns, while adding 269 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Five different Cougars have 200 or more receiving yards in what evolved into a very versatile offense — one of the staples of any Holgersen-led team. One of those receivers, senior Marquez Stevenson, will sit out Thursday’s matchup and prepare for the NFL.
Hawaii: The biggest thing that the Rainbow Warriors have to do is stay on schedule. Houston gets really creative with how it brings pressure, and Cordeiro will have to find ways to get the offense in second- and third-and-short situations. Otherwise, it might be a long day. Running back Miles Reed entered the transfer portal earlier this month, which will put even more pressure on Calvin Turner to help out his quarterback.
Game: New Mexico Bowl
Date: Thursday, Dec. 24 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Toyota Stadium — Frisco, Texas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: Watch Live
New Mexico Bowl prediction, picks:
It’s going to be a long trip to Texas for Hawaii both literally and figuratively. The Cougars defensive front will disrupt the Rainbow Warriors offense and limit their scoring opportunities. On the other side, Tune will have a solid day against a defense that doesn’t have the athletes to keep pace for a full 60 minutes. Pick: Under 60 | Houston 31, Hawaii 17