‘Bows and BYU continue historic rivalry in the Hawai’i Bowl on Christmas Eve


The University of Hawai’i football team will make its third SoFi Hawai’i Bowl appearance in the last four years when it faces old rival BYU (7-5), Tuesday, Dec. 24. Kick-off is 3:00 p.m. at Aloha Stadium. The Rainbow Warriors (9-5) will be seeking their fifth Hawai’i Bowl title and first since 2016 while the Cougars are making their first-ever Hawai’i Bowl appearance.

“I got family, I got uncles, they’re all talking about oh, Hawaii/BYU, snd the crowd is all behind us. We’re excited and we just can’t wait to be out here,” UH senior running back Dayton Furuta explained at the Hawai’i Bowl press conference on Monday in Waikiki.

The rivalry between the Rainbow Warriors and the Cougars is well known as the two programs have played off and on for 31 matchups since 1930. Tuesday afternoon’s game on Christmas Eve Day won’t be any different, but the history of the long-standing rivalry is what started the annual bowl game.

The date of Dec. 8, 2001, is essential for two reasons, the first being it was the last time the Warriors knocked off BYU, and it led to the creation of the Hawai’i Bowl the following season. It was the final game of the season for both teams, and BYU came to the island of O’ahu with a 12-0 record, ranked nationally at No. 9, were Mountain West Champions, and had hopes of being a part of what was known then as the Bowl Championship Series. On the other side, UH was 8-3 and didn’t have an invitation to a bowl game.

When time ran out, the 50,000 fans at Aloha Stadium saw UH route the visiting Cougars 72-45, spoiling their bid to the BCS and ended a six-game losing streak in the series. Current head coach Nick Rolovich served as the quarterback for UH. Rolovich threw for eight-touchdowns and was responsible for 48 points, both still stand as school records, as well as accounting for 543 passing yards. 

As a result of the game, BYU was knocked out of contention for a national championship, suffered their first loss of the season, and went to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. While UH still didn’t receive a bid to a bowl game. Due to the attention from those in attendance, as well as a national television audience, the Hawai’i Bowl was created the following season. UH appeared in the game in its first three years of existence.

In various ways, the memorable day from 2001 has come full circle in 2019. Rolovich’s jaw-dropping performance and the rivalry itself has turned into the former quarterback leading his team to its third bowl game in three seasons, and it’s the first time UH has faced off with BYU in a bowl game.

Entering Tuesday’s game, BYU holds a 23-8 record against UH. The Cougars are undefeated at 10-0 against UH on their home turf, but the Warriors have won eight times when hosting BYU, including four of those wins at Aloha Stadium.

“Yeah, I’ve heard a little bit about it just walking around. I was in an Uber the other day and the guy was just telling me about the history of BYU and Hawaii and just how it goes back a long time to when they were both in the WAC and playing against each other year in and year out. It’s going to be a super fun matchup man, I’m just so excited to be out here and play this game,” said Micah Simon, a senior receiver for BYU.

“The feeling and the excitement and the passion around the game from both fam bases, it’s impressive to see. We felt that all the way back in Utah as well. There’s a connection with this program and a lot of it goes back to the culture and the friendships and family. Why not compete and have fun and see how it works out tomorrow, but afterwards the mutual respect and the passion that we have for our programs will be a lot of respect for each other,” added BYU head coach Kalani Sitake.

Game #15
What: SoFi Hawai’i Bowl
Who: Hawai’i (9-5) vs. BYU (7-5)
When: Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019
Time: 3:00 p.m. HT
Where: Honolulu, O’ahu
Stadium: Aloha Stadium (50,000)
National Television: ESPN (Spectrum Ch. 222/HD 1222 and Hawaiian Telcom Ch. 70/HD 1070). Jason Benetti (play-by-play), Rod Gilmore (analyst), Quint Kessenich (sidelines).
National Radio: ESPN Radio. Kevin Winter (play-by-play), Brad Edwards/Trevor Matich (analyst).
Local Radio: ESPN Honolulu (1420AM/92.7FM). Bobby Curran (play-by-play), John Veneri (analyst), and Mark Veneri (sideline). Chris Hart and Gary Dickman hosts the “Countdown To Kickoff” at 1:00 p.m. HT. KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i).
Video Streaming: espn.com/watch or the ESPN app
Audio Streaming: ESPNHonolulu.com/Sideline Hawaii app
Live Stats: HawaiiAthletics.com
Series Information: BYU leads 23-8
Head Coaches: Nick Rolovich, Hawai’i, 27-27, 4th season. Kalani Sitake, BYU, 27-24, 4th season 

Game Storylines:

  • UH is making its ninth SoFi Hawai’i Bowl appearance, second straight, and third in the last four years. Hawai’i is 4-4 in the SoFi Hawai’i Bowl and 6-6 overall in 12 all-time bowl appearances.
  • UH and BYU have met 31 previous times with the Cougars holding a 23-8 advantage. The teams, which will meet for the first time in the postseason, were once members of the Western Athletic Conference and played every year but one from 1978-89. The series began in 1930.
  • BYU has won five straight in the series and 11 of the last 12. This year marks the third straight season which the teams have met with BYU prevailing 30-20 in 2017 at Aloha Stadium and 49-23 last season in Provo, Utah.
  • A win by UH would give the Rainbow Warriors 10 wins for just the seventh time in program history and first since 2010 (10-4).
  • UH will be playing its 15th game of the season, the most in a single-season in program history.
  • UH has scored 40 or more points in all four of its SoFi Hawai’i Bowl victories. In its four losses, the team failed to score more than 35 points.
  • UH is on the verge of featuring three 1,000-yard receivers this season, which would mark the second time in program history and only the sixth time in FBS history. Currently Cedric Byrd II is the only receiver to crack the 1K mark with 1,068 yards. Jared Smart needs 13 yards and JoJo Ward is 25 yards from reaching that mark.

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