College Football Bowl Betting Guide: Hawaii Bowl (Middle Tennessee vs. San Diego State)

Can Middle Tennessee pull the upset over San Diego State in the Hawaii Bowl?

The EasyPost Hawaii Bowl will almost certainly be overshadowed by the NFL on Saturday, but this bowl has been a Christmas Eve tradition since 2004. As you might have been able to guess, Hawaii has the most appearances and wins since the Hawaii Bowl began in 2002, but this year’s participants are Middle Tennessee and San Diego State.

Middle Tennessee’s highlight to the season was an upset of Miami, then ranked 25th in the AP Poll, at Hard Rock Stadium. The Blue Raiders followed up that performance with losses in four of their next five games. San Diego State didn't have an upset of that magnitude but the Aztecs did win five of their last seven games.

It’s no potential barnburner, but there is some betting intrigue in the Hawaii Bowl to go with a full NFL slate.

Note: All college football odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook. Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All ratings are out of five stars. Please check numberFire's model to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. San Diego State Aztecs

San Diego State -6.5 (-118): 1 Star

These teams have similar records, but the Aztecs’ defense is superior to that of the Blue Raiders. According to ESPN’s SP+, San Diego State is ranked 34th on defense while Middle Tennessee is ranked 93rd.

San Diego State can exploit a relatively weak Middle Tennessee offensive line that ranks 99th in average line yards, per Football Outsiders. The Aztecs, led by linebacker Caden McDonald, have only allowed an average of 128.8 rushing yards per game this season. McDonald is a three-time selection to the All-Mountain West team, and he was joined there this year by defensive lineman Jonah Tavai, who finished second in the conference in sacks with nine, and defensive back Patrick McMorris.

Additionally, the Aztecs are amongst the nation’s best on special teams; they rank 15th in SP+. Jack Browning is both the kicker and punter for San Diego State and won the Mountain West’s Special Teams Player of the Year Award. He was perfect on PATs this year and finished fourth nationally in punts inside the 20-yard line.

San Diego State has the personnel to win this game, and our model gives the Aztecs a 55.2% likelihood to cover the 6.5-point spread.