Christmas Eve is usually a time to sit in front of the TV, ignore the family and sweat out a bet on the Hawaii Bowl. Last year’s game was a wagering classic as Hawaii, a 3-point underdog, upset BYU 38-34 after a wild fourth quarter. Sadly, the bowl in Honolulu was canceled this year.
The Warriors (4-4) will meet Houston (3-4) on Thursday in the New Mexico Bowl, which will be played in Frisco, Texas, and the team with a losing record is a double-digit favorite. Only in 2020. Houston opened -10.5 at most books before the number moved to 12.5. It has dropped back to its original spot. The total has dropped from 61.5 to 60. The Cougars have played only once since mid-November, and the result was a 30-27 loss at Memphis on Dec. 12.
Expectations were reasonably high this season for Houston, which returned 18 starters, but the team underachieved. Dana Holgorsen is a coach who rarely overachieves. Holgorsen probably expected more from veteran quarterback Clayton Tune, who has completed 60.7 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Houston has the location advantage in this bowl, but what is the Cougars’ motivation and might this be an emotionally flat favorite?
Todd Graham, in his first year as Hawaii coach, is a fiery guy and a better motivator than the laid-back Holgorsen. Graham is inclined to be aggressive with his play-calling because dual-threat quarterback Chevan Cordeiro gives the Warriors a shot to pull the upset. Cordeiro, who has totaled 18 touchdowns (11 passing, seven rushing) this season, led Hawaii to recent victories over Nevada and UNLV.
The play: Hawaii, +10.5.