What: Wyoming Cowboys @ Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
When: Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, 10 p.m. MT
Where: Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex, Honolulu, HI
Odds: Wyoming -11.5 (via DraftKings)
History: The Pokes and Rainbow Warriors have met for the Paniolo Trophy 26 times with the Cowboys holding the slight advantage 15-11. Last year, however, the Rainbow Warriors traveled to War Memorial stadium and claimed a dominating victory over the Cowboys, as underdogs, winning the game 38-14 and taking the trophy back to the islands.
What to look for tonight:
Well, I hope you’re willing to stay up late Cowboys fans, because the Pokes are headed to the islands.
The battle for the Paniolo Trophy will look differently than it did last year. Wyoming (5-3, 3-1) and Hawaii (2-6, 1-2) both had major turnover in the offseason and many players on both sides are very young and lack experience. However, their seasons have looked completely different. Wyoming has turned their season into something very promising by winning 3 out of their first 4 conference matchups. They currently sit in the second spot in the Mountain division, only trailing Boise State. They’ve done so by leaning on the monster ground-attack of Titus Swen, the game management of QB Andrew Peasley, and the impressive defensive leadership of LB Easton Gibbs.
In their last game, the Cowboys took down Utah State 28-14 for their second consecutive win. Now, with their trip to Honolulu, the Pokes will have to continue that play against a team that they’ve lost to as big favorites before (see last year for reference). And though there are plenty of new faces on the Cowboys’ and Rainbow Warriors’ respective sidelines, players are still very much aware of that recent history and some of the Cowboys’ returners have long memories.
“We’re coming back with a chip on our shoulder after last year’s game,” UW linebacker Easton Gibbs said. “We know that wasn’t our best performance by any means and we just want to come out and play our best football. We have a sour taste in our mouth after last year’s game and we want to bring that trophy home.”
On the Rainbow Warriors side of things, Head Coach Timmy Chang knows there’s a lot on the line for his team in this matchup as well.
A loss would pretty much assure his team of no postseason play, and giving the Paniolo trophy back to the Cowboys on his home turf would certainly be another huge letdown for their season.
Hawaii’s offense has been abysmal to say the least. Though they’ve shown flashes of capability at times, they’re a lot like the Cowboy offense of last year in many ways. They’re just incapable of maintaining drives and playing a consistent brand of offense for four quarters. The Rainbow Warriors were only able to generate 257 yards of total offense against Colorado State’s defense, a defense ranked outside of the top 90 in total defense entering Saturday. Additionally, the Cowboys present a more disciplined defense, ranking 56th overall. On the other side, the Wyoming offense has a physical, dependable running game which is an area that Hawaii has struggled defending. The Cowboys are 52nd nationally in total rushing offense and pose a huge threat to continue their success against the Rainbow Warriors.
However, history isn’t necessarily on the Cowboys’ side. Wyoming hasn’t beaten Hawaii on the road since 1997. That’s a very long time. Coach Bohl is also 0-2 when playing in Oahu.
All of this information makes for an intriguing late-night Mountain West matchup. Hawaii wants to play spoiler, I’m just not sure this group will be able to keep up with the Cowboys and do so (unless there really is something in the water that the Pokes just don’t agree with). Give me the Pokes to win, regain the Paniolo Trophy, and keep themselves within reach of the Mountain West crown.