Hawaii Bowl Preview

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Dec. 23, 5 p.m. PST
Boise State (10-2) vs. East Carolina (7-5)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Payout: $750,000
Spread: Boise – 10.5
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So much has been made of the match-up between the two Johnsons and to some extent that’s fair. Both are great players and ECU’s Chris Johnson is going to make some pro team very happy next season. Both players will have a say in the outcome but with the defenses geared up to stop the two talented runners it should be the passing game that decides the winner.

Boise State will be at a severe disadvantage in that area. Sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Childs, a highly touted recruit, has been suspended for the bowl game. Childs led the team with 82 receptions for over 1,000 yards and 9 TD’s. No other receiver came close to those numbers on the Broncos roster. Expect them to use Ian Johnson more out of the backfield than they have throughout the season as a result. Only two other receivers, Titus Young and Austin Pettis, both freshmen, have caught a meaningful amount of balls. Quarterback Taylor Tharp has played well this year, completing 68 percent of his passes, but if the two youngsters on the outside don’t step up they’ll have to rely on Ian Johnson and the running game. This game will be much closer than the spread indicates.

When East Carolina is throwing the ball they use a two-man rotation at quarterback consisting of Rob Kass and Patrick Pinkney. Kass is a load at 6’4 250 while Pinkney is a scrambler. Neither has been overly efficient but if head coach Skip Holtz plays his cards right, whoever has the hot hand will lead the team for much of this game. They do spread the ball around to a number of receivers including the aforementioned Chris Johnson who is a great receiver out of the backfield (No. 2 on the team in catches). The leader of the group is sophomore Jamar Bryant, who originally signed with Georgia out of high school. He has 42 receptions. Each of his six touchdowns came during the final seven games of the season. Including Bryant and Johnson, five players have recorded at least 25 catches for ECU, despite their inefficiency issues. If either Pinkney or Kass can have a big game and take much of the onus off Johnson, the Pirates will be in good position to pull off the upset.

Boise State didn’t have a storybook season like last year but this is still a very competitive team. They lost a tough road game to Washington early in the season (the Huskies are better than their record indicates) and the only other loss came at the hands of BCS party-crasher Hawaii on the island. In between the two losses they amassed a nine-game winning streak, beating three bowl teams in the process. The magic of 2006 just isn’t there.

The East Carolina season was far from a storybook, even if we’re talking about a really sad book. Early season losses to Virginia Tech, Southern Miss and West Virginia were to be expected but losing late in the year to NC State and Marshall was inexcusable. Were it not for those two games Skip Holtz might be talked about for several prominent coaching openings. He has been great for East Carolina polishing off his third season there.

There’s no real football reason for this but I like East Carolina to win the game. Boise State sounds like they want to go to Hawaii for vacation, the Pirates are there to win a football game. It’s that simple for me. ECU will show up early and gain confidence as the game goes along.

Prediction:

East Carolina 17 – Boise State 16

The game will be televised in Canada on The Score.

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2 Responses

  1. Wow! You guys called that one right. If there was a lottery you guys would win the whole pot. As far as I can see you are about the only ones calling it for ECU. Everyone else is so embarrassed that they don’t want to write anything about the game. Go Pirates.

  2. Gotta hand it to ECU, they played a great game. When Boise made their push I got a little nervous but the Pirates managed to hang on.
    Good for ECU and Skip Holtz, they deserve it.

    – T.Miller

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