Hawaii (9-5) will play in its state's namesake bowl against BYU on Tuesday, December 24. It is the ninth time after the Rainbow Warriors finished the regular season with their highest win total since the 2010 season. They played for the Mountain West championship but fell to Boise State 31-10, so three of Hawaii's five losses this season came against this season's Las Vegas Bowl participants – Boise State and Washington.
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Hawaii started the season with wins over Pac-12 schools Arizona and Oregon State, and the Rainbow Warriors' bowl opponent, BYU (7-5), can relate to going out of conference for big wins.
The Cougars won at Tennessee in Week 2 then beat USC in Week 3.
Hawaii and BYU will meet in the Hawaii Bowl for an 8 p.m. ET kickoff on Tuesday, December 24. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
This game will be a matchup of strength on strength with Hawaii's No. 30-ranked offense going up against BYU's No. 51 defense. The Cougars' offense will have the chance to improve, too, thanks to the return of quarterback Zach Wilson, who missed roughly a month and a half with a hand injury.
Wilson, who started in BYU's wins over Tennessee and USC, played in BYU's last three games, including a 293-yard, four-touchdown performance against UMass. Having Wilson and the Cougars' offense at full strength will be important when playing a Hawaii team that averages more than 33 points and 325 passing yards per game.
Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald is a gunslinger who has thrown for 3,642 yards, 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
The Rainbow Warriors clearly have a pass-first offense, opting to throw the ball roughly 60 percent of the time.
Hawaii already has one 1,000-yard wide receiver in Cedric Byrd II (95 receptions, 1,068 yards, 10 touchdowns) and it could add two more in the bowl game as Jared Smart and JoJo Ward have 987 and 975 receiving yards this season, respectively.
Even though BYU's defense ranks in the upper half of FBS teams, the Cougars don't have any defensive players with more than two sacks or passes defended this season, so it'll be important for them to find ways to get pressure on McDonald.
But whatever issues BYU might have containing a high-octane Hawaii passing offense, the Cougars can rest assured that Hawaii's defense, which ranks No. 113 nationally, will have just as many, if not more, questions.
That sets up for a potential shootout in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.
BYU 31, Hawaii 28