With roughly 9,500 residents of Hawaiian or South Pacific heritage, Las Vegas is often referred to as the ninth island.
But don't expect much aloha spirit Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium when UNLV hosts Hawaii in an 8 p.m. nonconference football game.
The intense rivalry has been marred by fights in the stands, and the stadium should be a sea of Warriors green in many sections.
The Hawaiians on UNLV's football team say there's no opponent they are more intent on beating.
The battle extends to recruiting, where UNLV often targets the islands and the Warriors, naturally, want to keep Hawaii's top prospects.
Rebels coach Mike Sanford said simply playing Hawaii helps with recruiting in the South Pacific, and the teams meet a lot. After Saturday's game, they are scheduled to play each other seven of the next nine years.
Five UNLV players hail from Hawaii: starting defensive end Malo Taumua, starting guard Sean Tesoro, long snapper Kamu Kapanui, second-team defensive tackle Ramsey Feagai and freshman offensive lineman Daniel Kaanana.
"The transition was real easy," said Tesoro, who sprained his right ankle in Wednesday's practice. "It's easier than for guys from Texas or a lot of places. You can find everything (from back home) here."
UNLV interior offensive line coach Keith Uperesa, who went to Punahou School in Honolulu, recruits Hawaii and knows the importance of beating the Warriors for players from the islands.
"There's a wealth of talent that we tap into," Uperesa said. "We think it's a natural fit here to grow within the community that's already here.
"I think it's something that's got to grow over the next few years."
Hawaii coach Greg McMackin, meanwhile, would like to keep dipping into Southern Nevada's pool of football talent.
McMackin, who has a home in Summerlin, landed Silverado High School defensive back Mike Wadsworth in his last recruiting class. Wadsworth is playing as a freshman.
"We recruit a lot of Polynesians and people who have lived in the South Pacific who now live in Las Vegas," McMackin said.
For UNLV's Taumua, Saturday's game is about bragging rights.
Hawaii hammered the Rebels in both previous meetings in which Taumua played, and he heard all about it when he went back to Oahu from two former high school teammates -- Warriors defensive lineman Rocky Savaiigaea and linebacker R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane.
"I got nothing but trash talk," Taumua said. "It's a personal thing between me and those two guys."
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Read the latest UNLV football updates at lvrj.com/blogs/unlv_sports.