Easypost Hawai’i Bowl: Middle Tennessee State vs. San Diego State Game Preview
San Diego State plays its 12th bowl game in 13 seasons versus Middle Tennessee State in the 2022 EasyPost Hawai‘i Bowl.
Middle Tennessee State has allowed 300 or more passing yards in three of its last four games and over 400 in its win over FIU.
WHEN: Saturday, December 24th — 3 pm HST / 5 pm PST / 8 pm EST
WHERE: Clarence TC Ching Athletics Complex- Honolulu, HI (9,300)
WEATHER: Partly cloudy, 82 degrees F. Winds 13 mph.
RADIO: San Diego Sports 760
SERIES RECORD: This is the first ever Aztecs – Blue Raiders matchup.
LINE: Aztecs -7
Honolulu, HI- The San Diego State Aztecs face off against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders at the Clarence TC Chang Athletics Complex in Honolulu this Saturday, December 24th at 5pm PST.
Aztecs are excited to go bowling for the twelfth time in thirteen years, despite 2022 not manifesting into the year SDSU football had wanted. The Aztecs, for their 100th season, had debuted a brand-new football cathedral, Snapdragon Stadium. With a veteran Power 5 transfer quarterback, fans anticipated Braxton Burmeister would unleash an air assault.
The Aztecs choked 38-20 against the Arizona Wildcats in their century season opener, in their brand new stadium, during an historic heat wave. Arizona is arguably the most heat-wave-resilient foe in NCAA football.
Making matters worse, national media outlets focused on a terrible allegation implicating former Aztec and short-lived Buffalo Bills draft pick Matt Araiza along with two former teammates.
This season opener was not what fans had envisioned following an 11-win season. After their first loss, the Aztecs went 2-3, and nearly 1-4, before Burmeister delivered a last-minute win against Toledo.
After a spectacular offensive collapse against Utah, SDSU parted ways with Offensive Coordinator Jeff Hecklinski and re-activated Jeff Horton. Aztecs safety and former Mississippi State quarterback Jalen Mayden took over as quarterback and things came together.
In a bizarre turn of events, Braxton Burmeister moved to wide receiver for SDSU, and Jalen Mayden is the Aztecs’ starting quarterback. Mayden also unleashed that air assault fans had anticipated.
Middle Tennessee had a rough start, too, going 3-4 with an unexpected loss to Louisiana Tech. The Blue Raiders won their final three games, winning four of their last five, thusly earning the opportunity to go to Hawai’i.
This is the tenth bowl appearance under Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill, and the results have been underwhelming until just the last few bowls. In bowling, Stockstill’s record is 3-6, but he’s won two of the last three with a win over Toledo in last year’s Bahamas Bowl.
The Aztecs hammered UTSA in last year’s Frisco Bowl, and blew out Central Michigan in the 2019 New Mexico Bowl for four wins in the last six. Head coach Brady Hoke at SDSU is 2-0 in bowl games.
The Hawai’i Bowl has been canceled the last two seasons due to COVID, so a solid matchup will be well received by the locals.
WHY THE AZTECS WILL WIN
The Aztecs are rested up, and ready to play one more match this season. SDSU defense should be strong enough to stop the run against Middle Tennessee State.
The Blue Raiders offensive line struggles to keep defenses out of their backfield, and because of their offensive challenges they will be looking for their defense to score points.
San Diego State has unlocked Jalen Mayden’s passing game. Middle Tennessee State defense is strong against the run, but has allowed 300 or more passing yards in three of its last four games and over 400 in the tight win over FIU.
Mayden ought to be able to connect with Jesse Matthews, Brionne Penny and Tyrell Shavers.
If the Aztecs offense avoids interceptions, and connects with receivers, and if defense shows up and does its thing, the Aztecs should be able to win.
WHY THE BLUE RAIDERS WILL WIN
The Blue Raiders have a pretty decent defense, which manages to achieve an uncanny number of turnovers.
Middle Tennessee excels at forcing mistakes with opposing offenses. They’ve managed two or more takeaways in eight of the twelve games. It’s what the Middle Tennessee does better than anything else.
San Diego State doesn’t has a turnover issue, but the Aztecs turned the ball over multiple times in five games. They went 1-4 in those games. SDSU was 6-1 when experiencing one turnover or less.
Chase Cunningham is a veteran quarterback and a difference maker. Cunningham threw for nearly 3,000 yards with 19 touchdowns. Cunningham isn’t afraid to run for the chains and will likely pass for at least 200 yards.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN
Middle Tennessee will have its work cut out overcoming SDSU defense, and the Aztecs’ secondary will make it tough for the Blue Raiders to connect.
Middle Tennessee will need the Aztecs to make mistakes, and the Aztecs will have to be careful not to make them.
The Aztecs have lost when their defense broke down, but Middle Tennessee is not at the level of the teams that SDSU has lost against.
The Blue Raiders will struggle to obtain turnovers, and the Aztecs’ defense will collapse the pocket often enough to rattle Cunningham under center. In the end, the Aztecs will come away with the win.
Final Score: Blue Raiders 17, Aztecs 27