The 2022 Hawaii Bowl features the 7-5 San Diego Aztecs against the 7-5 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. Here is the 2022 Hawaii Bowl Preview.
San Diego Aztecs (7-5)
San Diego State won seven games to qualify for a bowl game. Their one loss to a non-bowl-eligible team was to Arizona. They defeated two teams who had at least a .500 record in San Jose State and Toledo.
The Aztecs haven’t scored easily, as they sit at 21.3 points per game, which ranks 110th in the country. They rush for 150.8 yards (ranked 68th) and pass for 170.9 yards per game (ranked 119th).
Five players have chipped in on the Aztec rushing attack with over 200 rushing yards on the season. Jordan Byrd is the leading rusher at 389 yards and three touchdowns. Jaylon Armstead leads the team at 6.0 yards per carry and has rushed for 313 total yards.
At quarterback, Jalen Mayden has taken the reins of the offense. He has passed for 1,721 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 62.9 percent completion. Four receivers have over 200 yards on the season. Tyrell Shavers leads the team with 581 receiving yards on 34 catches for three touchdowns. Jesse Matthews has the team lead in receptions with 38, but also has 409 yards and three touchdowns. Mekhi Shaw is the third-leading receiver with 29 receptions for 349 yards and three touchdowns.
Defensively, San Diego State has given up 20.2 points per game, which ranks them 20th in the country. They allow 128.8 rushing yards (ranked 38th) and 206.6 passing yards per game (ranked 39). Linebacker Michael Shawcroft has led the team with 77 total tackles and also has 5.5 sacks. Defensive lineman Jonah Tavai has the team lead with nine sacks. Cornerback Dallas Branch has been a standout in the secondary with three interceptions and two passes defended on the season.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (7-5)
Middle Tennessee also won seven games to get to bowl eligibility. They don’t have a victory over a bowl-eligible team this season. Only one loss came to a team that was below .500 on the season.
The Blue Raiders score 29.7 points per game, which ranks them 59th in the country. They rush for 123.1 yards (ranked 106th) and pass for 267.2 yards per game (ranked 32nd).
Quarterback Chase Cunningham has passed for 2,920 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 67.4 percent completion. Six pass-catchers have recorded at least 200 receiving yards on the season. Their leading receiver is Jaylin Lane, who has caught 59 passes for 829 yards and four touchdowns. Izaiah Gathings also had a great season with 53 receptions for 490 yards and two touchdowns.
Two running backs have shouldered most of the running game for Middle Tennessee. Frank Peasant has been the leading rusher with 747 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Behind him, Darius Bracy has helped with 257 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
On defense, the Blue Raiders allow 28.1 points per game, which ranks 82nd in the FBS. They conceded 121.9 rushing yards (ranked 26th) and 291.3 passing yards per game (ranked 129th). Safety Tra Fluellen is the team’s leading tackler with 97 and he also has seven passes defended. Defensive end Jordan Ferguson has 8.5 sacks this season. Safety Teldrick Ross has 16 passes defended, while cornerback Decorian Patterson has some of the best ball production in the country with 11 passes defended and six interceptions.
San Diego State’s defense will be the difference in this game. They will slow down Middle Tennessee, while they may be able to throw the ball better than they have all season long offensively.
San Diego State Aztecs 25 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 21
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