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Hawaii to meet Middle Tennessee in 2016 Hawaii Bowl

Published: Dec. 4, 2016 at 3:23 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 4, 2016 at 9:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Hawaii will meet in the 2016 HAWAII BOWL, announced by Hawaii Bowl Executive Director Daryl Garvin. The game will pit the Blue Raiders (8-4) of Conference USA against the Rainbow Warriors (6-7) of the Mountain West.

The 2016 HAWAII BOWL is scheduled for Christmas Eve (Saturday, Dec. 24) at Aloha Stadium. Kick-off is 8 p.m. EST/3 p.m. HST and will air on ESPN and ESPN Radio. The game will also be available on WatchESPN, accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and streaming devices to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.

"We congratulate the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on their successful seasons and look forward to what promises to be a great game to celebrate our 15th anniversary," Garvin said. "The state of Hawaii shines during the holiday season and will provide unique experiences for the student-athletes, coaches, and their fans."

The Blue Raiders, coached by 11th-year skipper Rick Stockstill, will make their first trip to the HAWAII BOWL and 10th all-time bowl appearance. MT finished third in C-USA's East Division and will play in a bowl game for the second consecutive season and third in the last four years. Stockstill owns a 72-65 record with Middle Tennessee with five bowl appearances, one conference title, and six winning seasons.

"We are honored to be representing Conference USA in the HAWAII BOWL," Stockstill said. "This is a once in a lifetime destination and I know our guys are extremely excited and can't wait to get on the island.

"This will be the third bowl game for our senior class and the fifth straight year of reaching bowl eligibility and that is a testament to their work ethic and consistency. This team has fought through a lot of adversity this season and to be rewarded with a bowl game of this magnitude is well deserved."

"We are grateful that C-USA, ESPN, and the HAWAII BOWL have selected us to play in such a prestigious bowl," said Chris Massaro, MT Director of Athletics. "We realize the distance will make it difficult for many of our loyal fans to attend but hope they support our bowl effort by purchasing tickets and we will donate them to local Hawai'i charities.

"I have spoken with the athletic director at Rice who earlier in his career attended the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl with Stanford and he puts the HAWAII BOWL experience right with those bowls. It will be a first-class experience for our student-athletes and fans that are able to make the trip so we are very excited about the opportunity and to compete against Hawai'i."

Hawaii will make its seventh appearance in the HAWAII BOWL and first since 2010. In 10 all-time bowl appearances, UH owns a 5-5 record, including a 3-3 mark in the HAWAII BOWL. The Rainbow Warriors, runner-up in the MW's West Division, are coached by Nick Rolovich, who in just his first season turned around a program that went 3-10 a year ago.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of this team and especially these seniors who'll be able to say they played in a bowl game," Rolovich said. "We're thankful for this opportunity to showcase our program and our university on a national stage against a very good Middle Tennessee team who we have great respect for. I know our players are proud to represent the Mountain West and will look forward to the challenge to end the season on a winning note."

"It is an honor for the University of Hawaii Warriors to be participating in the 15th annual HAWAII BOWL," stated UH Athletics Director David A.K. Matlin. "I am especially excited for our seniors to experience the magic of bowl week. I know how much this bowl game means to the community especially when Hawaii is in it so we hope to proudly represent our university and state during the weeks leading up to the game."

The game will feature one of the nation's top offenses in Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders are eighth nationally in total offense (515.7 yards per game), 12th in passing (317 yards per game) and 16th in scoring offense (40.1 points per game), having topped 50 points three times this season. In its regular season finale win over Florida Atlantic, MT tied a C-USA single-game record by scoring 77 points and set a new league mark with 495 yards rushing.

UH won its final two games of the regular season including a 46-40 victory over UMass in the finale to reach six wins. The Warriors return to the HAWAII BOWL where they appeared in six of the first nine games, having scored 40 or more points in their three wins.

C-USA teams have appeared in the HAWAII BOWL 10 times with a 7-3 record and a current six-game win streak. C-USA's last loss in the game occurred in 2005. Mountain West teams have appeared in the last four games, including last year, which was represented by conference champion San Diego State, who defeated Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference, 42-7.

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