HAWAII 34 Utah St. (-2.0) 32
Hawaii has averaged 6.7 yards per play this season while allowing 6.2 yppl, yet the Warriors have been out-scored by an average of 21.5 to 32.9 due to turnovers (-1.4 per game), poor special teams, and the inability to score when they get close to the goal line (just 3.4 points per trip inside the 20 yard line).
Hawaii is generally going to throw more interceptions than an average team because they throw the ball so often, but their 1.6 offensive fumbles per game is just random bad luck (they had 7 in the first 2 games and just 6 in the last 6).
Special teams may not be as much of a problem against a Louisiana Tech team that is even worse in special teams and scoring in the red zone may also not be a problem against a Utah State defense that has given up 5.9 points per red zone trip by their opponents (21 TD's and 4 FG's in 27 RZ opportunities), which is very high.
Hawaii isn't as good offensively with Bryant Moniz at quarterback, as Moniz has averaged his 6.4 yards per pass play against teams that would allow 6.7 yppp to an average quarterback while injured starter Greg Alexander was averaging an incredible 8.5 yppp in the first 4 games of the season before getting injured (against teams that would allow 6.7 yppp). Utah State's defense has trouble defending the pass (7.2 yppp allowed to teams that would average just 5.9 yppp against an average team), which is ideal for Hawaii's pass-heavy attack and the Warriors should score more often when they're knocking on the door.
Utah State's better than average offense (5.7 yards per play against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl to an average team) should also perform well against a Hawaii defense that rates at 0.8 yppl worse than average. However, my math model projects Hawaii to have a 480 yards to 451 yards advantage in this game.
Utah State is projected to have a 1.0 turnover advantage and my model would favor Hawaii by 2 points given each team scores as efficiently as expected given the stats. However, the current line of Utah State by 2 1/2 would be correct if Hawaii continues to struggle in the red zone, although I don't think that will be the case.
I think a line of pick is a fair line and Utah State applies to a negative 12-48-1 ATS subset of a 63-142-3 ATS situation that is based on last week's close loss to Fresno State, which could prove to be disheartening to a 2-6 team that had high hopes of making it to a bowl game this season. I'd consider Hawaii a Strong Opinion if the line goes up to +3 or more.
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