Pass-happy Middle Tennessee State is emerging as a leading candidate to play the University of Hawaii in the Christmas Eve Hawaii Bowl, sources said.
The pairing for the Dec. 24 game at Aloha Stadium could be announced as soon as Saturday night.
In the meantime, officials in the bowl industry said the matchup is subject to change. “A lot of things can happen in the next 48 hours,” said a participant in Friday’s Football Bowl Association conference call.
Hawaii Bowl executive director Daryl Garvin declined comment except to say that a Conference USA opponent was likely.
The Blue Raiders, who won six of their first eight games before record-setting quarterback Brent Stockstill suffered a broken collarbone, finished the regular season with an 8-4 record (5-3 in Conference USA).
Stockstill ranks seventh in the nation in passing yardage per game (311.2 yards) despite missing parts of four games. He is expected back for the bowl game.
He has completed 63.9 percent of his passes for 2,801 yards, 27 touchdowns and five interceptions. He has also rushed for 232 yards on 42 carries.
The head coach is his father Rick, a former Florida State (1979-‘81) quarterback.
Receiver Richie James is third in the FBS in receiving yards at 1,463 and 15th in receiving touchdowns with 11.
While the Blue Raiders are 12th in the nation in passing (317 yards per game) and 16th in scoring offense (40.1 points per game), they rank 101st among 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in scoring defense at 34.4 points per game. MTSU’s marquee win was 51-45 over Missouri.
UH and MTSU have met once, a 35-14 Hawaii victory in 1993.