One of the most exciting sports events of the entire year is arguably Hawaii’s annual football game against Boise State. It pits the two smallest states in the union against each other, with only Hawaii being slightly larger. The game is mostly contested on natural grass fields, with the occasional sprinkler turning up the intensity. Games are usually pretty close, with both teams competing hard throughout the game. It’s a great way for the whole state to celebrate summer vacation.
What was the betting line this year’s game? Below, you’ll find the complete rundown.
Theory: Both Teams Are Favorites
There’s no question that the Broncos are the overwhelming favorites in the match-up. Hawaii has a relatively unknown quarterback in his first year as the starter, and even has a rookie coach. The team managed to shock the world in the Mountain West Conference a year ago, going 11-2 and winning the conference championship game. Its only two losses were against teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game: Colorado State and Stanford. The team is led by one of the most experienced coaches in the game, Bryan Harsin, who has more than 30 years of experience in the profession. They are a perennial power in the conference, having won two conference titles in a row. In three previous games against Boise State, they have never lost, collecting a 69-13 record.
Boise State was picked by many to win the Mountain West Conference this year. After going 10-4 last season and securing a share of the conference championship, many expected big things from the Broncos. Undoubtedly, they are one of the favorites to win the whole thing this year. They’re led by first-year head coach Chris Petersen, who came from the nearby University of Washington. He’s one of the most experienced coaches in the game. In his first year, he guided the Huskies to their first Rose Bowl in more than 50 years. They’ll be looking to make it three wins in a row against the Rainbow Warriors this year.
Betting Overview: Odds Courtesy of Bovada
Those backing the Broncos had heavy odds in their favor. You can see the current odds for this game posted online at Bovada. Sportsbooks are clearly taking the over on this one. While the betting public may still be on the fence, with most sportsbooks going with Boise State as the favorite, Vegas odds makers know what they are doing.
PAC 12 vs. Mountain West Conference
It’s fair to say that PAC 12 vs. Mountain West conference is one of the most anticipated games of the year. Both are prominent football conferences, with the PAC 12 boasting thirteen teams and the Mountain West having fourteen. The game will be played on January 1 in the Galapagos Islands. It will be broadcast live in the United States on ESPN.
The PAC-12 is widely regarded as one of the most competitive conferences in the country, having won the title a record five times. Its teams often attract a large following, with many loyal fans gracing every stadium. Its most popular team is undoubtedly the USC Trojans, who have been led by head coach Steve Sarkisian in 2016. He came from the Washington Huskies, where he led them to a 59-3 record. Before that, he spent five seasons as the quarterbacks coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also spent time as an assistant coach at LSU and Washington State. The PAC-12 conference has never been dominated by one team, with the champions coming from both sides of the field. However, with USC leading the way, it will be a close race between the two conferences this year. The Trojans won the coin toss and elected to kick off the game. It’s an exciting matchup to start the year, as both teams will be looking to prove their worth as predicted challengers to the throne of the PAC-12.
Prediction: Underdog Boise State Will Knock Off Favorite Hawaii
Boise State is not your typical football underdog. The team is coming off a 10-4 season, which saw them go 1-3 against teams ranked in the top 25. They finished ranked 12th in the country, the highest they’ve ever finished in the AP Poll. The good news is they return many of their key players from last year, including quarterback Joe Southwick, who threw for 1,854 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. He’ll need to be at his best to help propel the team forward. While they may not be the favorite, many consider them to be the biggest threat to Hawaii’s title defense.
Hawaii’s quarterback, Grant Karras, had a breakout year in 2015, throwing for 582 yards and six touchdowns. The team also ran for seven scores, an average of 4.9 per game. He’ll want to build on that success to continue leading the Rainbow Warriors to a championship. They return most of their starters, including their offensive and defensive lines. The defense was even ranked 12th in the country by D.H.A. However, they still need a new head coach after Chuck Fairbanks was fired following an 0-3 start to the season. Having been on the job for just one year, it will be interesting to see how Petersen handles the big stage. Most expect the team to still be relatively inexperienced, a factor that could hurt them in their quest for a championship. Nevertheless, they are probably the second-best team in the state, so it will be interesting to see how they fare against the best in the country.
Expecting Boise State to win the game is definitely the safe bet, but many consider Hawaii to be a threat to their championship defense. The underdogs will most likely need to outscore the favorites by at least three touchdowns to win the game.