Every year on Christmas Eve, the Hawaii Bowl is usually the only football game on TV. This year, we have competing NFL games, but the Hawaii Bowl is still worth watching and betting on.
Even though the weather in most of the continental United States is frigid, With 82-degree weather in Saturday’s game, we might see a high-scoring contest despite a projected point total of only 49 points.
San Diego State is a strong defensive team, and Middle Tennessee is a strong offensive team. In a battle between two polar opposites from different conferences, picking a winner is vexing.
Below, I take a deep dive not into the Pacific Ocean, but into my Hawaii Bowl best bets.
Middle Tennessee vs San Diego State Odds for Hawaii Bowl
On Dec. 5, right after Bowl Games were announced, San Diego State opened as a -3.5 favorite at Caesars Sportsbook. A day later, the line movement stopped with SDSU being moved to a -7 favorite where they have stayed for the last 2-3 weeks.
With a point total opening at 47.5 points and only moving to 49 points, bettors and oddsmakers are expecting a bowl game with not too much scoring, but close to a moderate amount.
Middle Tennessee vs San Diego State Prediction for Hawaii Bowl
Middle Tennessee 31, San Diego State 20
The Hawaii Bowl is unpredictable, which makes coming up with predictions difficult. Both teams, particularly Middle Tennessee, are inconsistent.
Looking at MTSU’s game logs, it is easy to see that they have been all over the place this season. With a 7-5 record, their five losses were each by 15 or more points.
This includes blowouts against mainly tough teams as they lost to UAB, UTSA, Western Kentucky, and James Madison.
The crazy thing about the Blue Raiders is they also racked up some impressive victories. The highlight was beating Miami (FL) 45-31 on the road as a 26-point underdog.
San Diego State as a team is much more consistent than Middle Tennessee. They were 5-1 in the games they were favored in and 2-4 in the games where they were underdogs.
When SDSU is supposed to win, they deliver, and when they are supposed to lose, they are predictively mediocre.
- Dive into the full College Football Playoff Bracket and print out your own copy.
If the game goes as predicted, we will see a low-scoring game where San Diego State wins and covers. If it goes unpredictable, as many bowl games go, Middle Tennessee will comfortably win a high-scoring game as an underdog.
Just look at the bowl games that have been played so far as of Tuesday, Dec. 20. Only two teams have covered by less than a touchdown (BYU and Marshall), and the other seven teams have covered the spread by more than a touchdown.
It may be a small sample, but this is typical for bowl games that the result is further from the spread than regular season games.
That is why my projection is that not only does Middle Tennessee win in an upset, but they win by at least a touchdown due to their explosive offense.
Middle Tennessee vs San Diego State Best Bets for Hawaii Bowl
Middle Tennessee Moneyline +215 at Caesars Sportsbook
WAGER: 0.5 Units
Based on my theory on bowl games, I need to wager for positive variance aka good luck. If Middle Tennessee wins and I take the spread, I only win +0.91 units, but if I bet the moneyline, I net +2.2 units.
- See the latest College Football odds for Bowl season.
In a regular season game, the spread is the best strategy for Middle Tennessee as San Diego State is a team not built for blowouts. For a relatively meaningless bowl game, you are better off either picking Middle Tennessee to win or San Diego State to cover an even bigger alternate spread.
Middle Tennessee -6.5 (+345) at Caesars Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
What do I like even more than the Blue Raiders’ moneyline? A -6.5 alternate spread that pays +345.
Even with more variance for CFB Bowl Games than regular season games, you should still watch out for key numbers when selling points.
- Read more of our College Football Bowl Predictions
The most common margin of victory in college football is three points, and the second most common margin is seven points. For this particular game, that means that -2.5 (+213) isn’t a good number as it pays worse than the moneyline.
But -6.5 (+345) is a great number as it pays 60% better than the moneyline and doesn’t cross the key number of seven.