The University of Hawaii football team returned to the practice field on Tuesday morning in preparation for another edition to the Fresno State (3-4, 1-2 MWC) rivalry this weekend.
The Rainbow Warriors (5-3, 2-2 MWC) are coming off of a 45-31 win at New Mexico, as both the Bulldogs and ‘Bows have two losses in conference, trailing San Diego State by one game in the West division standings.
Saturday’s match-up is the 52nd meeting between the schools. Fresno State is UH’s longest-standing rival. The teams have met every season since 1992 when both were members of the Western Athletic Conference.
FSU leads the all-time series 28-22-1, however, the series is tied 14-14 in games played in Honolulu.
Current members of the coaching staff, head coach Nick Rolovich, offensive coordinator Brian Smith, and quarterbacks coach Craig Stutzmann were all on the 2001 team that beat the nationally ranked Bulldogs at Aloha Stadium. Two years prior, Stutzmann and Smith were on the 1999 team that beat FSU in the Western Athletic Conference championship game.
Despite having first-hand experience of how intense the rivalry can be between the two teams, Rolo says doesn’t intend to spend too much time on the history lesson, as his team should be focused on creating their own last memories.
“This generation of kids, if they’re interested, they’ll go and find it. If that’s something that they want to go look at, I can send them a couple of links but really I want to concentrate on this Fresno team and this Hawaii team and really just playing football. I think that this team respects the past but I think that they’re just very concentrated on their now moment,” said Rolovich.
A win would give UH its first home victory over the Bulldogs since 2007. FS has won the last five games at Aloha Stadium, including two contests that were decided by five points or less (24-21 in 2011 and 42-37 in 2013).
After UH won 7-of-10 in the series from 2001-10, Fresno State has won seven of the last eight overall and 6-of-7 in Mountain West play.
“It’s extremely exciting for myself, Stutz, Rolo, Where they were that we were playing, those were a lot of really big games, when we beat them in 1999 and 2001. The energy in those stadiums for those games and what was at stake in those games were really exciting and you’re getting similar to now, where it’s a pivotal game in our side of the conference. Whoever doesn’t pull out of this game is probably getting knocked out of the race for the championship on our side so there is a lot at stake,” added Smith.
Hawai’i’s only win during that span was a 14-13 victory in 2016 in Fresno, Calif., in a game in which the winning team of the series failed to reach 20 points for the first time since 1973.
Kickoff between UH and FSU is set for Saturday at 6:00pm at Aloha Stadium.