December 23, 2016

The bowl fest continues Saturday with Hawai’i essentially hosting Middle Tennessee State in the Hawai’i Bowl at 8 PM ET saturday evening on ESPN.  On first blush this game looks like one of those throwaway bowl games whose only purpose is to fill up the ESPN schedule. And certainly it appears that this bowl was the only post-season game that 6-7 Hawai’i was going to get an invitation to. That happens when your best – and maybe only – prospect for the 2017 draft is your kicker. But that’s the case with the Rainbows, although P/PK Rigoberto Sanchez (#1, 6-1, 190) is a pretty good kicker who hit on all 12 of his FG attempts this fall including one from 55 yards, while also averaging 44.6 yards punting the ball. Meanwhile, WR Markus Kemp (#14, 6-3, 200), who had 70 receptions for over 1,000 yards this fall, could get some free-agent consideration.

What makes this game kind of interesting is the chance to check out MTSU which is something of a rising mid-major that shocked Missouri on the road this fall and then hung 77 points on Florida Atlantic in their season-finale. MTSU is led by RB I’Tavius Mathers (#4, 5-11, 200), who could be something of a sleeper this coming April after he piled up over 2,000 yards from scrimmage this fall including over 1,500 yards on the ground and another 500 on 62 receptions. Mathers in fact is just the seventh player in FBS history to have 1,500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in the same season. The Blue Raiders also have a pretty good cover corner in Jeremy Cutrer (#8, 6-1, 170) who should get some early third-day consideration this spring.