College Football Free Pick: Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors at UMass Minutemen
Rematch of 2016’s Final Regular Season Game Has UMass Looking for Revenge
Last year in order to secure a bowl berth the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors needed a win versus the visiting UMass Minutemen. UMass led for much of the game and then with it tied at 40-40, the Rainbow Warriors went ahead. The Minutemen’s final drive stalled and Hawai’i won 46-40. The two teams meet again today at 6 p.m. ET. This time they play in Amherst, MA. Our Hawai’i visits UMass 2017 college football pick has the Minutemen favored by -3.0 and the totals bet at 61.5.
Rainbow Warriors Offense vs. UMass Defense
Hawai’i has eight starters back on offense and their line looks to be quite solid. That should help senior running back Diocemy Saint Juste who last season gained 1,000-plus-yards while averaging 6.1 YPA. Sophomore QB Dru Brown did well in his first season, completing 62.4% of his passes for 19 TDs. He did put up seven picks. With a full season under his belt, we expect him to have a good opener today. Although his top receiver from last season is gone, he does have three quality pass catchers, including John Ursua who in 2016 had 53 catches and averaged 12.3 YPC.
The Massachusetts Minutemen see nine starters come back on defense. That includes their top tacklers and rushers. Last season they allowed 35.5 PPG (108th) and 452.7 YPG in total offense (99th). They were especially vulnerable to the air attack. Ed Pinkham, formerly of Western Michigan, is the team’s new defensive coordinator. He’s noted for creating stingy defenses. Senior MLB Steve Casali is a huge force and game-changer and senior DEs Sha-Ki Holines and Da’Sean Downey are tough on QBs and RBs.
Minutemen Offense vs. Hawai’i D
UMass was tied for 100th in the nation in points scored last season, averaging 23.3. But they are going up against a weak defense that allowed on average 37.3 PPG (113th). Junior QB Andrew Ford, who completed just over 60% of his passes and tossed 26 TDs, will be protected by a young and inexperienced O-line. He’ll have his two top receivers from last year, Adam Breneman and Andy Isabella. Together they combined for 132 catches, 1,600-plus-yards, and 15 touchdown catches. RB Marquis Young will anchor the ground game. He had close to 900 yards in 2016 while averaging 4.6 YPA. We expect the Minutemen to lean heavily on the pass in this game.
Last year, the Rainbow Warriors were 113th against the run and 84th versus the pass, while they allowed a total of 461.6 YPG (112th). The team’s front and secondary are very flimsy, while their LB unit is solid. The Hawai’i linebackers, led by junior MLB Jahlani Tavai, will try to contain Ford and the passing game. Last season, Tavai toped the team in tackles (129), sacks (7), and tackles for a loss (12.5). There’s some decent depth in the LB squad. This should be a better defense than the one the Warriors fielded last season. But how much better remains to be seen.
Hawai’i Visits UMass 2017 College Football Pick: Final Word
We find that this Hawai’i visits UMass 2017 college football pick is a tough one to make. Neither defense is noted for stopping opponents. However, we do think new UMass D-coordinator Pinkham will make a difference. We also like the Minutemen on offense and the fact that they are at home. We’re going with UMass today at -3.0 and the over at 61.5. The stage is set for a revenge victory.