HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Rainbow Warriors are on their way to Texas to face Houston in the New Mexico Bowl on Christmas Eve.
The ‘Bows left Daniel K. Inouye International Airport Monday morning for Frisco, Texas because of COVID-19 restrictions in New Mexico forcing the game to the Lone Star state.
Head Coach Todd Graham is looking to use Thursday’s extra game as an opportunity to build for next season and as a reward for his team completing one of the most complex seasons of his career.
“Obviously our guys are excited, it’s a great reward, these guys have navigated and done a great job giving it everything they have all year long.” Coach Graham told reporters. “We’ve made a lot of progress and laid a great foundation for the future, so the focus right now is enjoying this time together, developing better fundamentally and finding a way to beat a really good football team in Houston.”
This is the first off island bowl game for UH since the 2008 Sugar Bowl, an exciting experience for Graham’s team — something they might never get to see first hand.
“I’m looking forward to them getting to enjoy it,” Coach Graham said. “I mean it’s been a challenging year in a lot of ways and so we’re looking forward to going and enjoying that experience and getting better as a football team, figure out a way to become bowl champions.”
One of UH’s first time bowl goers is newcomer Quentin Frazier, who quickly made a name for himself on the defense this season after transferring from Division II Azusa Pacific.
“Just try to take in every moment of it and just max it out each play, each rep that I get, just make the most of it and I know it will be a great time to come out with that victory and celebrate after it.” Frazier said.
Frazier says that he will have some family in attendance in the stands Thursday — Texas is allowing a limited amount of fans at sporting events — something local players have had the convenience of experiencing for the last two seasons.
The ‘Bows have made it to the Hawaii Bowl for the last two seasons, allowing the local boys on the team to have their family watch them play on Christmas Eve, but this year, quarterback Chevan Cordeiro says that it’s his mainland teammates’ time to have some family in attendance.
“It’s always good to spend the holidays with your family.” Cordeiro said. “Last year all of the locals spent time with our family and this year is their time, so i’m happy for them and lets get this win for them.”
The last time the two “UH’s” met was back in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl, where the home team would beat the Cougars, 54-48 in triple overtime, which ended in an all out brawl.
However, Cordeiro and his teammates are not worried about what happened in the past, they’re looking to get an early Christmas present.
“This is our last game together as a whole team, so we want to come out with a win.” Cordeiro said. “We know what we’ve got to do and that’s it.”
The ‘Bows and the Cougars kick off December 24th at 10:30 a.m. Hawaii time on ESPN.