LARAMIE -- Subconsciously, Hawaii might just be the reason I chose this career path.

I think back to those long nights in my youth, listening to the Cowboys and Rainbows on the radio. I never stayed up that late, but when the Pokes were on the islands, it was an event.

I'd throw down blankets and pillows on the floor of my grandpa's bedroom, close my eyes and let Dave Walsh and Kevin McKinney lead the way. I remember thinking to myself: What are the teams wearing? How many people are in the stands? Was that last play really as exciting as Dave made it sound?

I'd pump my fist and occasionally get a little loud when Mitch Donahue, Ryan Yarborough or Ryan Christopherson made a big play. My grandpa never told me to pipe down.

Truth is, he was awake the entire game, too.

My grandpa Vernon O'Brien was and still is my hero. The greatest man I ever knew in my life. He was never outwardly a big football fan, but he cared. He enjoyed listening and watching Wyoming games. Probably because I loved it so much.

He never went to a game with me, but he helped me get to quite a few. Often times when I couldn't find a ride over the hill, he would ask our neighbor across the street if I could tag along.

That worked out beautifully.

Turns out a lot of the players and their parents knew my neighbor. That's how I met some of my favorite guys who ever wore the Brown and Gold: Marcus Harris, Richard Peace, Len Sexton, David Sarraf and many, many more.

Newspapers come into play here, too.

The one bummer about the road game in Hawaii -- aside from the fact the Cowboys didn't have a lot of luck in Honolulu -- was the newspaper with the game story and photos wouldn't be on our doorstep until Monday morning.

I cut out and saved all clippings of the Pokes in a big scrapbook. Sadly, unless it's hiding somewhere at my grandma's house, it's been lost to time.

Another beautiful memory I have of this rivalry came back in 1996. To this day, that was the most dominant performance I have ever seen from a Wyoming team.

The Cowboys jumped out to an early 35-0 lead on the visitors thanks to a big first half from quarterback Josh Wallwork, who threw for 288 yards and two scores. The final score was 66-0. It was the largest margin of victory since the Pokes knocked off Northern Colorado 103-0 back in 1949.

Harris snagged seven balls for 204 yards and, along with the rest of the first team, enjoyed a nice fall rain as they laughed and joked on the bench. Sexton scored, so did Marques Brigham. So did Tim Beasley and Harris. Safety Brian Lee picked off a pass, too.

Wyoming racked up 509 yards of total offense. Hawaii managed just 154. I don't recall them even crossing midfield.

It was as close to perfection as it gets.

Friday night's game inside War Memorial is sure to play out very different from that meeting in '96.


Here is all you need to know about Friday's tilt in Laramie:

WHO: Wyoming (0-1) at Hawaii (1-0)
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 30 at 7:45 p.m. MST
WEATHER: High of 50, low 32 degrees, sunny, winds at 15-25 mph
WHERE: War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, Wyo.
TVFS1 (Channel 149 on Dish Network; 219 on DirecTV; 83 or 583 on Verizon Fios)
RADIO: Wyoming affiliates
TICKETS: UW box office
ROSTERS: Wyoming / Hawaii
VEGAS ODDS: Hawaii -1.5, O/U 55.5
HISTORY: Wyoming is 14-10 in the all-time series (Last meeting: 17-13 Hawaii win in 2018)
HEAD COACHES: Craig Bohl / Todd Graham
TROPHY: Paniolo Trophy

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