Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, September 9, 1999

’Bows must repeat
history of beating up
on I-AA teams

ONE thing about scheduling Michigan and Southern Cal back to back - even if a season apart - is that it can be hazardous to your football team's health. Just ask the Hawaii Rainbows.

Is it any wonder that they have the nation's longest losing streak going?

Watching replays of the Rainbows against the Wolverines and Trojans were equally unbearable to UH fans.

It's as enjoyable as watching snuff films, which, in a sense, they were.

And, so, it's nice to know that the Rainbows finally will be playing a team that's more their speed - literally and figuratively.

You hope so anyway. After all, Eastern Illinois is Division I-AA and surely a team that the Rainbows can handle despite coming off an embarrassing 62-7 loss.

If no can handle, we are in trouble, brah. Then, we're talking 0-12.

But it'll never happen. The Rainbows will finally get that losing-streak monkey off their collective backs by beating the Panthers.

Not that the 'Bows have had the habit of losing to Division I-AA opponents.

This decade, they romped over Southeast Missouri State, an Ohio Valley Conference member with Eastern Illinois, 34-0. And remember the Maine game? It was 44-3.

THEY beat Cal State Northridge, 34-21, in 1997 and Central Florida, 45-14, in 1995 before it moved up to Division I-A the following season. But the games were closer than the scores indicated.

And who can forget the 1993 opener when I-AA Middle Tennessee State took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter over the Rainbows, who were coming off their Holiday Bowl-winning season?

They had to scramble back to win, 35-14.

Over the years, the Rainbows often have been too overconfident when playing Division I-AA opponents. Who knows why.

But they won't have that mindset this week. A victory, against anybody, is their only goal right now.

This is one game that the Rainbows can't afford to lose. Never mind the caliber of the opponent, too much is riding on it. A rare win's at stake.

Coach June Jones is impressing that fact on his Rainbows.

"We're focused on what we have to do this week," Jones said. And there's no chance that his Rainbows will be taking Eastern Illinois lightly, according to Jones.

"Believe me. When you are where we are, you have to play your ass off to win. We've got to play good just to win.

We've got to get over the hump," he said.

HUMP? Right now for the Rainbows it's more like Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa.

Fortunately, Eastern Illinois is more like a speed bump than a road block to UH's hopes of ending Da Streak.

Still, you never know. You've got to play the game.

UH fans still remember how last season went south when the Rainbows lost to Arkansas State, which is just a cut above I-AA, in the third game of the season.

Eastern Illinois is 1999's litmus test, this year's Arkansas State.

"Historically, they've always had some good skill people. So it looks like it's true again," Jones said about the Panthers.

"This team can play football. They're going to come here thinking they have a chance. And we've lost 19 straight."

And only in Hawaii ... nationally ranked USC one week and Eastern Illinois the next.

For once, we should be glad.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

E-mail to Sports Editor

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