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Is It a Rivalry? Wyoming vs. Hawaii

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Wait, they play for a trophy?

Wyoming v Hawaii Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images

In this new series, our writers will be looking at various Mountain West matchups and determining whether or not they qualify as rivalries. Our newest edition features Wyoming vs. Hawaii.

Record: Wyoming has 14 wins, Hawaii has 10 wins.

Longest winning streak: Wyoming’s longest winning streak is 6, Hawaii’s is 3.

Largest margin of victory: Wyoming 66-0 in 1998, Hawaii 42-18 1992.

How does each team feel about the opposition and its fanbase?

Jeremy: It’s a “what have you done for me lately?” world, and these two programs have played each other only four times since 2013. Before that, the most recent contest was in 1997, so it’s hard to have hard feelings about an opposing fan base that rarely makes an appearance. As is usual, there are outliers in every fan base. Maybe you’ll encounter the one or two Wyoming fans who do not handle their liquor well, but overall I don’t think Hawaii fans have any reason to fear travelling to Laramie, nor should Wyoming fans have reservations about Aloha Stadium’s residents.

FatDuckUW: I don’t think Wyoming fans have any particular animosity towards Hawaii fans. The schools go back a ways, having played some competitive football against one another back in the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s while in the WAC. Back in the late 80’s, the Bob Wagner coached Hawaii teams had some pretty good games with the Paul Roach coached Wyoming teams. Still, I think things were always pretty civil. The Hawaii fanbase would be welcoming enough as I don’t think Wyoming was ever that greatly disliked. As for Hawaii fans going to Laramie, I’m not sure that is even a thing, but Wyoming fans would admire that sort of passion to travel to WY from HI for a football game.

Would you consider the rivalry competitive?

Jeremy: Since the series resumed in 2013 after a long break, the largest margin of victory in the four contests played was 10 points (2014). Wyoming dominated the series in the 90s, and the two programs traded brief streaks in the 80s. Historically and recently, the series is more competitive than most rivalries.

FatDuckUW: Yes. It has been pretty even through the years. Wyoming is 14-10 overall, but 12-8 was back in the WAC days. In the MWC, the record is 2-2. Hawaii is 2-0 on the islands while Wyoming is 2-0 in Laramie.

Which matchups stick out in your mind?

Jeremy: The 2013 contest was madness. In the brutal wind and snow, a rare setting for a shootout, the Brett Smith led Wyoming to a 59-56 victory. The 95’-96’ games were both in Laramie, Wyoming out-scoring Hawaii 118-6 over the course of that period, which from Hawaii’s perspective, is very much not what you want. Hawaii did defeat Wyoming 42-18 in Honolulu in 1992, one of Hawaii’s most successful seasons in program history. While this series isn’t littered with classics, the recent matchups have all been good games that went down to the wire.

FatDuckUW: The WAC matchups are not something that I experienced. I would say that the last two meetings probably stick out the most. Wyoming lost a close game at Hawaii in 2018. It was a defensive game, and Wyoming was leading in the 4th quarter. Chevan Cordeiro would come up with a 38 yard TD pass to JoJo Ward with 1:26 left in the game to give Hawaii the win. That loss probably kept a 6-6 Wyoming team from making a bowl game. The year before that, Wyoming would beat Hawaii in overtime in Laramie. It was a close and hard-fought game. The win bumped Wyoming up to 2-2 as Wyoming went on to finish 8-5. Meanwhile, that loss dropped Hawaii to 2-2, and the Rainbow Warriors season went in reverse as they finished 3-9 that year.

If you asked Hawaii fans what they think about Wyoming what would they say aloud? What would they secretly be thinking?

Jeremy: I think Hawaii fans generally respect what Wyoming is building under Craig Bohl, and aspire to have a program built on similar toughness. Secretly, obviously the two cultures and climates couldn’t be any more different. Hawaii fans can sit through harsh humidity, sweating like crazy in November whereas Wyoming fans are dealing with freezing wind some islanders cannot even imagine. Pokes is short for cowpoke, which might make Hawaii fans do a double take considering the popularity of poke, the diced raw fish dish. The two programs share a common hatred for Washington State football, after both coaching staffs were raided by Nick Rolovich this past January.

If you asked Wyoming fans what they think about Hawaii what would they say aloud? What would they secretly be thinking?

FatDuckUW: I think Wyoming fans would say aloud that they generally like Hawaii. That Wyoming fans respect that the Rainbow Warriors made the MWC Championship Game last season. That it was awesome for Hawaii back in 2007 when they made the Sugar Bowl, and that those June Jones coached Hawaii teams were fun to watch. Wyoming fans would say that it sucks that Nick Rolovich went to Washington State. Wyoming fans feel bad for Hawaii losing a good coach, but also feel bad that he poached most of the Wyoming defensive staff to go to Washington State with him. Secretly, I think Wyoming fans might wonder how diehard Hawaii fans truly are about Hawaii football. Wyoming fans have to sometimes endure some pretty terrible weather watching Wyoming games in Laramie. It can be miserable watching Wyoming lose to New Mexico in the cold (sometimes it is miserable even when Wyoming wins) which is something most Hawaii fans will likely never experience.

Final verdict, would you consider these two teams to be rivals?

Jeremy: The Paniolo Trophy series was born after a group of Hawaii residents with Wyoming roots called the Wyoming Paniolo Society donated the trophy to the two programs decades ago. Considering the long gap between 1997-2013, obviously some of the luster in this series has worn off. Being in separate divisions with no real disdain between the two fan bases makes it hard to suggest this is a rivalry. Alas, there is a trophy for this game. I’ll say no, but the hardware says otherwise.

FatDuckUW: Sort of. The teams play for a trophy. They have a history that goes back a ways. They have played competitively. Still, it is Hawaii and Wyoming. They are not that close to one another as far as proximity. They have no real animosity for one another. Fans of both programs probably care more about winning different games on their schedule. Also, it hurts any potential rivalry that the teams only play one another for two years on and then two years off. The next Wyoming/Hawaii game is set for 2021 in Laramie.