New Mexico Bowl Betting Preview: Hawaii faces Houston in Frisco as Big Underdog

As college football‘s most tumultuous season draws to a close, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (4-4) take on the Houston Cougars (3-4) in the New Mexico Bowl on December 24. It could be a prime opportunity for bettors to win some last-minute holiday spending money.

Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 pm ET, with the matchup televised on ESPN.

The game, to be played before a limited crowd at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas (yet it remains the New Mexico Bowl), figures to be a big challenge for Hawaii, listed at Betonline as a 13-point underdog. The Over/Under for the contest is set at 59.5.

The Rainbow Warriors (4-4), representing the Mountain West Conference, are making their third consecutive bowl appearance and first under new head coach Todd Graham. The Cougars, of the American Athletic Conference, will be making their seventh bowl appearance in the past eight years and first under second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen.

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Betting News & Notes

The Rainbow Warriors, as was the case with most college football programs, found disarray at several points this season. Hawaii didn’t begin its season until October 24, but did play the rest of the way without interruption, finishing up with a 38-21 win over UNLV on December 12.

Note: Hawaii is 2-5 against the spread over its past seven games.

In a big departure from typical Hawaii teams of the past, these Rainbow Warriors play some defense. The regular-season finale was the second time in three games holding an opponent to 21 points or fewer — though Hawaii allowed 30 points or more in its prior four games.

Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro keys the offense, having led Hawaii in passing as well as rushing yards. He could become the first Hawaii quarterback to lead his team in rushing since Michael Carter in 1991.

Over his eight games, Cordeiro threw for an average of only 243.4 passing yards, but averages a rushing touchdown per game, 4.2 yards per carry and 56.5 rushing yards per game.

Hawaii scores 26 points per game while allowing just over 29.

Houston Cougars Betting News & Notes

Houston had a much more unsettled season than Hawaii did, with a whopping eight games postponed or canceled due to COVID-19.

A resilient bunch, the Cougars earned their title as favorites in this New Mexico Bowl matchup with a much stronger schedule that included Cincinnati and BYU. Houston lost its finale, 30-27 at Memphis on December 12, finishing 3-4 against the spread.

Houston trailed in that Memphis game by two scores late into the fourth quarter but rallied to tie the game with about a minute left in regulation.

In the New Mexico Bowl, the Cougars’ cause would be boosted by a big day from quarterback Clayton Tune, who averaged just 5.5 yards per attempt against Memphis. Despite its tough schedule, Houston held opposing quarterbacks to a completion rate of only 58.1 percent, 39th best in the FBS.

Houston’s defense allowed 103 rushing yards and three rushing TDs to Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder.

Houston scores 32.3 points per game while giving up 32.6.

Key Betting Information

Houston is a strong favorite in a game that has seen the line move from 10.5 to 13 during the past week. The Over/Under has dropped from 61 to 59.5 at

On offense, Hawaii had a high score of only 39 points this season, leading to hitting the “under” six times in eight games.

The Rainbow Warriors prefer passing plays, throwing at the 28th highest rate in the FBS. But Houston sports a strong passing defense that limited a talented Memphis quarterback, Brady White, to only 246 passing yards in the regular-season finale.

Graham and Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen met twice prior with Holgorsen winning both matchups: the 2015 Cactus Bowl in which West Virginia defeated Arizona State, 43-42, and in the 2011 regular season when Holgorsen’s West Virginia team posted a 21-20 victory over Graham’s Pittsburgh Panthers.


A sports enthusiast, Ryan helps cover sports betting news from around the country, highlighting some of the more interesting events going on in the USA.