HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A pair of college football teams hope they can put on a much better showing on national TV this Thursday. And while both are meeting on the same turf, getting there has been two separate tales.
The road from Dallas to Oahu has been well documented for SMU. Under former Warrior head coach June Jones the Mustangs have turned around their schools once dormant program to make their first bowl game in 25 years.
And for SMU players there's no one they believed could bring an end to that than the coaches who 11 years ago helped revive the Warriors program.
"When they first got to Dallas they spoke of the tradition of Hawaii and now we're experiencing it so now we know a little about it" said Mustangs receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
"You know I'm enjoying it, it is my first bowl game and my last bowl game and I'm just taking it in every step of the way."
SMU played consistent ball from beginning to end, finishing second in their Conference USA division. The same could not be said for Nevada. The Wolf Pack's post-season hopes took a big hit early on by losing their first three games. Since then they've been red hot, winning eight of their final nine games to finish second in the WAC.
Coach Ault points to a mid-season meeting with the submarine crew from the USS Nevada to helping re-energize his team.
"They came to visit us and just talk about how they cheer on the Wolf Pack during the year. It was really an emotional talk. It was very touching to see people who are protecting us and give us this chance to play football, follow us" said Nevada coach Chris Ault.
Now the Wolf Pack say they're looking to turn around their post season luck in the islands. Although Nevada has made a bowl game five years in a row, they haven't won in their last three tries.
Ironically their last bowl win came five seasons ago at the Hawaii Bowl.
"Back in 2005 I was a redshirt freshman on the Hawaii Bowl trip and now I just see it as finishing how it started so to speak" said Nevada offensive lineman Alonzo Durham.
Kickoff for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl is this Thursday at 3:00 PM Hawaii time. The game can also be seen on ESPN.
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