Wyoming Returns to Conference Play Saturday at Hawai'i

Oct. 8, 2014

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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Coming off their first bye of the 2014 season, the Wyoming Cowboys (3-2 overall and 1-0 in the Mountain West Conference) return to conference play this Saturday when they travel to Honolulu, Hawai'i, to face the Rainbow Warriors. It will be Wyoming's first visit to Aloha Stadium since the 1997 season.

Saturday's game is scheduled to kick off at 10 p.m., Mountain Time (6 p.m., Hawai'i Time). The game will be televised in Wyoming through ROOT SPORTS. ROOT SPORTS is picking up the telecast originated by Time Warner Oceanic. The game will also be streamed online on the Mountain West Network and through the official University of Wyoming Athletics website, GoWyo.com. The MW Network and GoWyo.com live streams will be blacked out in the ROOT SPORTS television viewing area. The game will be broadcast on radio over the 26-affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network, beginning with the pregame show one hour prior to kick off.

Wyoming returns to conference play on top of the Mountain Division standings. The Cowboys are 1-0 in the Mountain West, having won their only MW game earlier this season against Air Force. Boise State enters this week 2-1 in the MW. Air Force is 1-1 in conference play. Colorado State and New Mexico have each suffered one conference loss this season and enter this week with 0-1 conference marks. The sixth Mountain Division team, Utah State, hasn't yet played a conference game. The Aggies host Air Force this coming Saturday.

The NCAA rankings of most difficult schedules through the Saturday, Oct. 4 games ranks the Wyoming Cowboys' schedule as the most difficult in the Mountain West Conference to date. Wyoming's schedule is tied for No. 23 in the nation with Florida State.

The NCAA rankings are based purely on the winning percentage of a team's opponents to date. Wyoming's first five opponents this season have posted a 9-5 record for a winning percentage of 64.3 percent.

The most difficult schedule to date as ranked by the NCAA is Iowa State's. ISU opponents have posted a 10-2 record to date.

The second highest ranked Mountain West school is Boise State. The Broncos are tied with Alabama for No. 26 with an opponent winning percentage of 63.2 percent and a combined opponent record of 12-7.

The Wyoming Cowboys and Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors will be playing for the 22nd time overall in the series and will be competing for the Paniolo Trophy for the 21st time. Wyoming and Hawai'i first played each other in football back on Nov. 18, 1978, with Hawai'i winning that first meeting in Honolulu by a score of 27-22. The Paniolo Trophy has been a part of the series since 1979. A group of Hawai'ian residents, with roots in Wyoming, donated a statuette of a Cowboy preparing to toss a lariat. At the time the traveling trophy was introduced to the rivalry both schools were members of the Western Athletic Conference, as Hawai'i joined the WAC in 1979.

The overall series is led by Wyoming 13-8. Wyoming leads the Paniolo Trophy series with 13 wins to Hawai'i's seven victories.

The traveling trophy was named the Paniolo Trophy as Paniolo is the Hawaiian word for Cowboy. For 19 years, from 1979 to 1997, the two teams competed for the Paniolo Trophy. After Wyoming's 35-6 win in the 1997 meeting in Honolulu, the series between the two schools ended. Due to the rotating schedule of the then 16-team WAC, Wyoming and Hawai'i weren't scheduled to play in 1998. In 1999, Wyoming joined the Mountain West Conference.

The series was renewed in 2013, when Hawai'i joined the Mountain West as a football playing member school. Wyoming recorded a 59-56 overtime victory in Laramie in 2013.

The series was interrupted for 15 years. When Hawai'i was invited to join the Mountain West Conference, beginning in 2012, the two schools began discussion of a renewal of the Paniolo Trophy competition. But over that 15-year timespan the Paniolo Trophy was lost, which became a story in itself. Each school searched for it, but it was not to be found.

Enter a new group of Hawai'i fans to continue the tradition. The Paniolo Preservation Society, a 12-year old group dedicated to preserving Hawai'i's rich Cowboy heritage proposed a new trophy. Led by the Society's President, Mrs. Patricia C. Bergin, a bronze maquette, featuring Hawaiian native Ikua Purdy roping a wild stag bull, was donated to the two schools in 2013 to mark renewal of the series. Purdy became the first Hawaiian inducted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1999. The is a reproduction of a larger work by noted western sculptor Fred Fellows. The reproduction measures approximately 20" long and 12" high.

Two current members of the Wyoming football team hail from the state of Hawai'i. Redshirt freshman strong safety Tim Kamana hails from Honolulu, Hawai'i, where he played at Punahou High School. Junior defensive end Siaosi Hala'api'api also is a native of Honolulu, and played his prep football at Kaimuki High.