The Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii will begin their 2017 campaign far from home, taking on the east coast independent University of Massachusetts.
Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich got results in his debut last season, taking the squad to its first bowl game since 2010 and winning it (over Middle Tennessee) by more than 2 touchdowns. UMass comes in with pretty high esteem among bookies considering that the Minutemen had a miserable 2016. The particulars:
Who: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at UMass Minutemen
When: Saturday August 26th, 6 PM EST
Where: Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Hadley MA
Betting lines: EVEN, Total Points 64.5
The current “pick’em” spread is somewhat of a mystery in this match-up. Lines opened with the Warriors favored by a field goal, but the action slanted toward UMass from the get-go. Early betting also favors the over (64 total points).
Sometimes, bettors can be too interested in history. Hawaii does not play in the WAC, as they did in the old-school ESPN days. Instead, the program is part of the Mountain West, an underrated conference which has a lot of recent Power-5 scalps over its mantle. The Minutemen, on the other hand, may have the eastern/familiar mojo on their side but have only won 2 games since 2015.
Does Las Vegas think Hawaii’s bowl appearance was a fluke? On its face, that seems ridiculous – at least to make the presumption at this early date. After years of uncertainty at QB, the Rainbow Warriors finally know who their starting quarterback will be in 2017. Dru Brown should continue to prove a reliable signal-caller, and will be flipping to neat play-makers like John Ursua and Dylan Collie.
Perhaps the Minutemen are on the up-swing? QB Andrew Ford completed over 60% of his passes and drilled 26 touchdown throws in 2016. But UMass is a program that, for all its solid defensive outings against ACC or SEC schools, cannot rise to a challenge when it counts. Demoralizing losses to Tulane, BYU and – yes – Hawaii dotted the 2nd half of a disastrous schedule last fall.
Take the Warriors ATS, all the way. Too often (or not too often enough), bookies get caught up in micro-analysis, for instance scrutinizing Ford’s possible slight advantages in a head-to-head QB duel. But the macro-analysis is lost…along with a dose of common sense.
This is a competitive Mountain West team with a returning QB, solid coaching and an improving record taking on an independent school that loses to almost everybody. There is no reason for any old memories of MAC-level Hawaii teams to color the outcome of the rematch.
On the O/U, take the under. BetFirm rates the Hawaii-ATS pick higher, but a total-points number of 64 is generous of Vegas odds-makers. The entire NCAA schedule is getting off to a slightly early start. Classes have just begun, and we can expect an “extended Spring Game” vibe as teams feel each other out without too many fireworks.