Memphis vs. Hawaii 2021 Hawaii Bowl Expert Betting Analysis

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Calvin Turner Jr. #7 of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. Darryl Oumi/Getty Images/AFP.

Editor’s Note: For the second year in a row, the Hawaii Bowl was canceled. Less than 24 hours before kickoff, the Rainbow Warriors program informed they’re unable to play the game due to COVID protocols within the team.

The imploding Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are the wrong NCAAF pick at the best sportsbooks when they host the Memphis Tigers for this year’s Hawaii Bowl.

Memphis Tigers vs. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

Friday, December 24, 2021 8:00 PM EST at Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex

Believe it or not, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors don’t play in the Hawaii Bowl every year. They have to be bowl-eligible first, and it almost didn’t happen this time; Hawaii won their last two games as underdogs to finish the regular season at 6-7 SU and 5-7-1 ATS. That eventually gave the Warriors the automatic bid for the Mountain West representatives in this matchup.

Supplying the opposition for the American Athletic Conference are the Memphis Tigers (6-6 SU, 4-8 ATS), who also barely qualified by winning their last regular-season game. Big things are expected from Memphis in this matchup; they opened as 3.5-point favorites on the NCAAF odds board at Heritage Sports, then steamed all the way to –7.5 at press time, with the consensus reports showing 93 percent support for the Tigers. Shall we join the parade, or is it time to bet the other side now?

See Ya, and I Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya

All that steam should be a warning not to trust the projections, and that something is happening on the ground that we need to figure out. Even then, Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today has Memphis ahead by 1.62 points, and ESPN’s Football Power Index likes Hawaii to win 55.6 percent of the time. Things are messed up is what I’m trying to say.

If the first two words that came to your mind were “transfer portal,” well done. Both QB Chevan Cordeiro and RB Dae Dae Hunter have already left the program, dealing the Warriors a serious blow heading into this matchup.

But how serious? Running backs are fungible assets in this sport; it’s the switch from Cordeiro to freshman Brayden Schager that bettors have to worry about. Schager has had his ups and downs when called upon, but overall, he wasn’t considered a threat to Cordeiro’s starting gig this year. This is a tough spot for him.

Graham Crackers

There’s another thing to consider with these transfers, and it’s even more important: Hawaii head coach Todd Graham. A December 6 report in the San Francisco Chronicle had some scathing words for Graham, provided by his own players. They spoke of Graham’s incompetence as a coach, the toxic culture he’s fostered, and their general unhappiness with the program.

As if Graham’s heavy-handedness weren’t demoralizing enough, the Warriors are playing this year at the on-campus Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex, which is a huge step down from the Aloha Bowl – now shuttered because of safety concerns.

It all adds up to a horrible situation for Hawaii fans and players alike. At least seven other Warriors have entered the transfer window at press time; others could follow before kick-off.

So yes, we’ll be putting Memphis in our college football picks at this new price, but for a smaller amount than we would have at –3.5. Early-bird shoppers, you win again.

NCAAF Pick: Memphis –7.5 (–108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Memphis –7.5 (–108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.