The cold rain of Reno wasn’t enough to deter the Hawaii football team two weeks ago. Neither was the prospect of playing at Mackay Stadium, a place the Rainbow Warriors had won at just once in nine trips.
But following a 54-3 win against Nevada, the largest margin of victory for Hawaii ever in a Mountain West road game, there’s not much that can scare this group of Warriors.
The prospect of playing on a Blue Turf they’ve never won on certainly won’t do that.
Hawaii (4-1 overall, 1-0 Mountain West) travels to Albertsons Stadium on Saturday to face off against Boise State (5-0, 2-0). The Warriors are 0-6 all-time in Boise. But all that is in the past and far from the mind of any of the Warrior players.
“They’re not scared of ghosts,” coach Nick Rolovich told media in Hawaii this week. “They’re not scared of Christmas Past. They’re very here and now and they’ve really taken that approach all offseason. I think they started to see some success after last year. Having a winning record, being able to say ‘it’s January 1, last year we had a winning record, let’s build on it,’ I think the seniors and the captains, they took it very seriously and saw it as an opportunity and not a challenge. They saw it as an opportunity to do something even more special than they’ve already done for this university.”
Hawaii has beaten Boise State just once since 2000, a 2007 victory at home during the Warriors’ Sugar Bowl season.
Since that game, Boise State has dominated the series, winning all six games by at least 20 points. In the three games at Albertsons Stadium, the Broncos have outscored the Warriors 124-14. Included in those games was a 55-0 win in 2015, the last time the Warriors traveled to Boise.
But few, if any, of the current Warriors were playing in that game, so this group of players are hoping to write their own stories.
“A lot of people talk about this happened in the past, this is a tough game for us, a rivalry,” said junior quarterback Cole McDonald. “For me, it’s just another game for us as a team, as a unit. It’s just another game on the schedule, whether it’s snowing, raining, cold, the field is blue, purple, yellow, whatever the case may be. We’re going there and we’re going to play ball regardless.”
Hawaii hasn’t been a team to shy away from challenges this year. The Warriors opened the season with wins against a pair of Pac-12 opponents in Arizona and Oregon State. Now they’re opening the Mountain West portion of the schedule with two road games in places they’ve historically struggled.
With one win checked off there, Hawaii is hoping to get another Saturday.
A win will give the Warriors a 2-0 record in conference play, putting them in good position in the West Division with both Fresno State and San Diego State making trips to Honolulu later in the season.
“We’re extremely confident,” McDonald said. “Coming into practice this week, execution was on point. We’re tuning up the little details, fine tuning stuff. And we’re going into Boise prepared and ready to go.”