HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The stage is set — the Rainbow Warriors are set to face off with the University of Houston Cougars in the New Mexico Bowl on Christmas Eve.
Thursday’s matchup between UH and UH will be the third mainland bowl game the ‘Bows have been to in program history and head coach Todd Graham is using it as a way to cap off this first year in Manoa.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to go out and play our best game, get a lot of momentum going into the off season, but i’m proud of our program and where we are at and we’re very honored to be here.” Coach Graham told reporters. “The Bowl’s been a great experience and so this games big, it’s a great opportunity to be on national television and showcase our program.”
Looking ahead to the game, the Cougars offense presents some athletic obstacles for the Hawaii defense, but defensive standout Darius Muasau feels his coaches have prepared his teammates for anything that gets thrown their way.
“This offense has weapons on their o-line, they got big dudes on the o-line and then they have weapons on the outside with their skill players.” Muasau said. “They can attack us, whether in the run game or the pass game, so I feel that our coaches did a great job game planning against the personnel that they have on the offense.”
Muasau was named to the All-Mountain West first-team after racking up 95 tackles in the regular season and led the ‘Bows in tackling in all eight of their games.
Along with Muasau’s increased production, the whole team has seen a surge in production under coach Graham, something the Texas native hopes to continue and build off of after their bowl game.
“We are laying the foundation, it’s what we talk about everyday, we’re laying the foundation for a championship team and they’re going to follow, instilling the kind of discipline, the kind of work ethic, the values that it takes to be a successful organization.” Coach Graham said. “Really proud of our players and how they’ve handled this, this year has been a very unique year to say the least.”
The last time Hawaii flew to the continent for a bowl game was the 2008 Sugar Bowl, but their last win in a mainland bowl came all the way back in the 1992 Holiday Bowl, so the current Rainbows are looking to make a statement on the national stage.
“We just want to put Rainbow Hawaii football on the map, just representing our home state, it just really means a lot to us.” Muasau said. “A win tomorrow could really boost our confidence going into next season and it’s the beginning of 2021 this next game, so this game really means a lot.”
The two UH’s kick off at 10:30 a.m. Hawaii time on Christmas Eve — broadcasted nationally on ESPN.