Hawaii Football Through The Years
The University of Hawaii’s football has had its share of highs and lows in its nearly 100 years of existence. Here’s a look back on some key moments in the program’s history.
by Lance Tominaga
Oct. 23, 1909
Then known as “The Fighting Deans,” the UH football team made its debut, beating McKinley High School, 6-5.
Jan. 1, 1924
A rainbow appears over Moiliili Field, and Hawaii upsets Oregon State to end the 2003 season. Reporters begin calling UH teams the “Rainbows.”
Jan. 1, 1926
UH defeats Washington State, 20-11, to complete its second consecutive undefeated season. Combined, the 1924 and 1925 “Wonder Teams” went 18-0 and outscored their opponents, 606-29.
Sept. 17, 1955
Hawaii shocks Nebraska, 6-0, in Lincoln, to earn one of the greatest upsets in school history.
Nov. 26, 1966
UH falls to Utah State, 48-0, in the final game of their first all-collegiate schedule. The Rainbows finish 4-6 for the season.
Sept. 15, 1973
Hawaii upends Washington, 10-7, in Seattle to open the 1973 season. The Huskies were favored by as many as 50 points.
Sept. 13, 1975
Hawaii plays its first game at brand-new Aloha Stadium. It isn’t a happy debut, however, as the Rainbows get blitzed by Texas A&I, 43-9.
Dec. 2, 1978
In front of more than 48,000 fans, Hawaii keeps it close against No. 3-ranked USC before losing, 21-5.
Sept. 8, 1979
The Rainbow Warriors make their debut as a member of the Western Athletic Conference, losing to Utah, 27-23.
Nov. 14, 1981
A national TV audience sees Hawaii fall to conference rival BYU, 13-3, at Aloha Stadium. The two schools were battling for sole possession of the top spot in the WAC.
Oct. 28, 1989
After 10 consecutive losses to BYU, Hawaii beats the Cougars in a 56-14 rout at Aloha Stadium. UH basketball player David Hallums calls beating BYU “better than statehood.”
Dec. 25, 1989
After a nine-win regular season, the Rainbow Warriors earn their first berth in an NCAA-sanctioned bowl game. On Christmas Day, UH is overwhelmed by Michigan State, 33-13, in the Jeep Eagle Aloha Bowl.
Dec. 30, 1992
UH running back Travis Sims rushes for two touchdowns as WAC co-champion Hawaii defeats Big Ten power Illinois, 27-17, to emerge victorious in its first (and, so far, only) Holiday Bowl.
Dec. 2, 1995
Hawaii loses to Oklahoma State, 24-20, to close out a disappointing 4-8 season. Head coach Bob Wagner is fired, to be replaced by Fred von Appen. Von Appen would go 5-31 in the next three years before getting the ax himself.
Dec. 25, 1999
Hawaii holds off Oregon State, 23-17, to win the Jeep Oahu Bowl and complete a remarkable turnaround season. It is the first season under new head coach June Jones.
Nov. 5, 2004
In a home game against Louisiana Tech, UH quarterback Timmy Chang becomes the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing yards. He finishes his career with 17,072 passing yards.
Nov. 23, 2007
Led by Heisman Trophy candidate Colt Brennan, Hawaii beats conference rival Boise State, 39-27, to claim its first-ever outright WAC championship. The Warriors go on to play Georgia in the BCS Allstate Sugar Bowl, losing to the Bulldogs, 41-10.