When Brigham Young and Hawaii square off Saturday for the first time since 2002, they’ll renew a college football rivalry that began in 1930 and heated up significantly starting in 1980.
The game is at 4:30 p.m. PST at Aloha Stadium and will be aired locally on ESPN2 (Cox 31) and KSHP-AM (1400).
The teams’ last meeting in Honolulu was in 2001. BYU leads the series 19-8 and is 12-8 in Honolulu.
“It’s been a long time,” Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “I know at one point this was a significant game for both schools, and possibly we can develop that again. This will be one of the first steps.”
Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said, “It makes it a rivalry to these guys because they have many friends on that (BYU) football team. It was a great rivalry, and we are scheduled again for a long time in the future.”
Historically, the Cougars have enjoyed significant recruiting success in Hawaii, at the Warriors’ expense. Mendenhall said he hopes the renewed rivalry strengthens BYU’s recruiting there.
A strong Mormon church presence in Hawaii has been a polarizing factor across the state. Attendance at Aloha Stadium is expected to be near capacity (50,000), compared with 21,542 last week when the Warriors beat Tulane.
“I would love to have the Utah game as the last game of the season, but if not, I would like to have Hawaii be the last game,” Mendenhall said. “I’d love to have the last game of the season have special significance.”
The game is significant for Hawaii. The Warriors must win to become bowl eligible and receive an invitation to the hometown Hawaii Bowl.
BYU has accepted an invitation to the Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas on Dec. 30.
■ NELSON RETURNS — Cougars junior quarterback Riley Nelson was cleared to play and is expected to start at Hawaii.
Nelson suffered a collapsed lung and torn rib cartilage against Idaho on Nov. 12. Doctors initially diagnosed Nelson with two broken ribs, but later determined the injury involved only cartilage.
■ UALE’S HOMECOMING — Senior defensive back Travis Uale is one of nine Cougars players from Hawaii. Uale grew up in Hawaii Kai, outside of Honolulu.
“I never imagined while growing up that someday I would be playing for BYU and come home to play against UH,” he said.
In a twist of fate, Uale returns to Aloha Stadium for the first time since his Kamehameha High School team won the state championship in 2004.
■ HAWAIIAN PUNCHES — Despite BYU’s winning record in Honolulu, the Warriors have spoiled two of the Cougars’ biggest nights.
Hawaii routed BYU 59-28 on Dec. 1, 1990. Just hours before kickoff, Cougars quarterback Ty Detmer was awarded the Heisman Trophy.
The Warriors rolled over BYU 72-45 on Dec. 8, 2001. The Cougars entered the game 12-0 and ranked seventh. Quarterback Brandon Doman, now the Cougars’ offensive coordinator, was knocked out of the game because of broken ribs.
The 72 points remain the most allowed in BYU history.
■ SURF’S UP — Mendenhall is an avid surfer and spent part of his summer vacation riding the waves off the coast of San Diego. The Hawaiian surf has caught his interest.
“I checked the surf report and it’s supposed to be good. So if I’m not at the game, then you’ll know what’s happened,” he said jokingly.
Coincidentally, the best surfers in the world are in Honolulu this week for the Van’s World Cup competition.
■ COUGARS HIT THE COURT — The BYU men’s basketball team meets Oregon at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday. The game will start at 2 p.m. PST and can be seen in Las Vegas on ESPNU (Cox 320).
Dave McCann is a morning news anchor on KLAS-TV (Channel 8). He hosts “True Blue” at 5 p.m. Monday on BYUtv, is the play-by-play voice for BYUtv and hosts “Cougar Countdown” at noon Wednesday on KSHP-AM (1400) and Sirius XM 143 BYUradio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.