The San Diego State football program reached their 13th straight bowl eligibility season this year. In Brady Hoke’s third full season as head coach the Aztecs completed a 7-5 win/loss mark.
Though it was not the ultimate outcome the team and staff were aiming for, it is yet another successful year in terms of being in the top half of all FBS programs.
On Monday morning early reports suggested what is now official that the Aztecs will be one half of the equation in the Easypost Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve, December 24 at 3pm Hawaii time and 6pm Pacific.
The other half of the equation will be their opponent the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. The Murfeesboro, Tennessee program led by head coach Rick Stockstill also finished the year at 7-5 and 4-4 in Conference USA play.
Highlight wins for the Blue Raiders this season include a 34-19 drubbing over Mountain West Colorado State and a 45-31 thriller over the Miami Hurricanes. One of their losses to take note of however was an opening game beatdown at the hands of
FCS power (SunBelt Conference member) James Madison University 44-7.
The bowl game in Hawai’i was canceled in 2021 when the University of Hawaii pulled out of competition citing a rise in sudden COVID-19 cases, as well as an onslaught of injuries and transfers.
The ESPN televised matchup will also be played on Hawaii’s campus at the Clarence TC Ching Athletics Complex. The makeshift stadium has been home to the Rainbow Warriors for the past three seasons while plans for a new Aloha Stadium are in the development stages.
Last season SDSU successfully won the Frisco Bowl against Conference USA opponent UT San Antonio. It was a celebration of an 11 win, Western division championship season and had opportunities for an all-time program best 12 win mark—which they achieved.
This year however is a bit of a quandary. Though the game presents homecoming opportunities for many players from the islands to play in front of friends & family it will be interesting to see what other motivations lay before the team to help bring out their best after a lackluster performance in the season finale loss vs Air Force.
On this years football roster there are technically 5 players that call the islands home. Freshman OL Laakea Kapoi, senior Center Alama Uluave, freshman OL Rambo Mageo, sophomore LB Darrell Masaniai, and senior LB Seyddrick Lakalaka.
For DL Justus Tavai it is also a chance to go back where he played the bulk of his collegiate career before transferring in to SDSU to join his brother Jonah Tavai.
Nevertheless the real rewards for a bowl appearance of this nature are the vital team bonding moments that can carry over great momentum into Winter and through to Spring camp. That and the usual advantages for young players to earn more practice reps within their positions.
Stay tuned to the Sons of Montezuma Podcast and all the content we aim to provide as we inch closer to this Christmas Eve matchup.