Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt kickoffs this Saturday (8/26/23) at 7:30pm EST in Nashville as a home game for the Commodores. Vanderbilt is currently a -17.5 point favorite and a -910 favorite on the moneyline while the total is set at 55.5. Read on for more Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt best bets and predictions as this serves as a revenge spot for the Rainbow Warriors.
Hawaii Vs. Vanderbilt Prediction & Best Bet
It was a tale of two halves for the Rainbow Warriors in 2022 as their level of play on the field went from abysmal to shockingly competitive. So competitive that they actually turned into covering machines on the back half of their schedule as their quality of play steadily increased. They now find themselves in a revenge spot from last season’s opener when they lost to the Commodores 63-10.
Take last year’s result against Vanderbilt with a grain of salt as the drastic change of Hawaii’s level of play can not be overstated. A majority of their struggles fell on their inability to establish an identity on offense. Forcing the pass behind an inexperienced offensive line and middling weapons on the outside led to disastrous early season results. What Hawaii didn’t realize at the time is that their ground game was waiting in the wings to hit the ground running.
Knowing what they got in running back Tylan Hines this season, as well as returning a majority of their offensive line that improved down the stretch, we may see Hawaii lean more towards the run after grossly underutilizing it last season. They possessed a rush play rate of 43.5%, good for 116th in the nation, and a near top-25 ranking in Rush Success Rate.
That bodes well for the Rainbow Warriors offense as Vanderbilt mightily struggled in stopping the run. They finished last season 74th in Def Rush Success Rate and near dead last in Def Rush Explosiveness. With a majority of their front seven coming back, it’s safe to say Vanderbilt may improve in that regard. It was already hard to do much worse than what we saw last year.
Hawaii Vs. Vanderbilt Odds
After last year’s one-sided affair, oddsmakers believe Vanderbilt wins again with ease as they opened the Commodores as a -18.5 favorite. That number has steadily come down, getting to as low as -16.5 as of writing. Pending which books you look at, that number can be found anywhere between -16.5 and -17.5.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored in bunches as oddsmakers opened the number at 55. It has stayed relatively close to the opening number, ticking up to 55.5 in some books. An under may be a play as well should Hawaii transition more towards the run, bleeding time off the clock throughout a majority of the contest.
Hawaii Vs. Vanderbilt Key Matchups
Will Vanderbilt take a step back with quarterback AJ Swann under center? Can Brayden Schrager take advantage of a weak Commodore secondary?
AJ Swann vs Himself
After getting shut down late last year, AJ Swann makes his return under center as the leader of the Vanderbilt offense. He was middling at best in his 2022 campaign, failing to find any sort of consistency that led to downfield success.
Their pass success relied heavily on their ability to break off the big gain, possessing an above average Off Pass Explosiveness metric yet a pedestrian 85th Pass Success Rate rank. A warning sign of regression back towards the mean, drastically halting their offensive success as they struggle to string together drives.
Brayden Schrager vs Vanderbilt secondary
It was a game to forget last year for Brayden Schrager as he threw for a putrid 161 yards and zero touchdowns against the Vanderbilt defense. Splitting reps with backup Joey Yellen in that contest who produced little to nothing as well. The good news is that was last year, and this year should be drastically different as he finds himself with more time in the pocket and wider passing lanes to throw to should Hines command the defensive attention with his running prowess.
— Spectrum Sports HI (@specsportshi) November 13, 2022
With Hawaii being in a good position to take advantage of Vanderbilt’s weak rush defense, Schrager gets the benefit of the Commodores secondary being forced to creep up in an effort to plug the gaps and help against the rush. Should that be the case, the outside is ripe for the picking and Hawaii will be in a good position to move the ball down the field against a Vanderbilt defense that ranked 126th in Def Pass Success Rate.