A Great Hawaii Bowl Match-up

Dave Matlin is excited about the Oregon State-Biose State pairing | Leah Friel photo

Dave Matlin is excited about the Oregon State-Biose State pairing | Leah Friel photo

You couldn’t blame Sheraton Hawaii Bowl executive director Dave Matlin for being almost giddy in the days following the announcement that Boise State would match up with Oregon State in the annual Christmas Eve football bowl game.

“The phones have been really active. Lots of tickets are being sold. We’re very excited,” he tells me.

With these two nationally recognized college football powers going head to head, the Dec. 24 contest, with its 3 p.m. HST kickoff, should also garner strong TV ratings, something that has been a staple for the game in Hawaii almost from its inception.

“It’s a great TV venue for Hawaii to the world,” Matlin says. “On announcement day, it was 70 degrees warmer in Honolulu than it was in Boise, and it was 60 degrees warmer here than it was in Corvallis.”

I asked him if he thought this specific match-up was one of the best the bowl has seen in its 11-year history, and he said it’s up there. “I think it rivals Notre Dame vs. Hawaii (2010) and Arizona State vs. Hawaii (2006),” he says.

Over the years, the Hawaii Bowl has had more than its share of exciting games and big stars. Some of my favorites include Timmy Chang’s five-touchdown performance in Hawaii’s 54-48 overtime win over Houston in 2003, Colt Brennan matching the five passing TDs in a 41-28 rout of Arizona State in 2006, and Chris Johnson’s 400-plus all-purpose yards in East Carolina’s thrilling 41-38 win over Boise State in 2007.

Add to that the big-name value of Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate in the Fighting Irish 49-21 defeat of Hawaii in 2010, and you’ve got quite an array of stars. Last year, June Jones came back to the Islands to lead his SMU Mustangs to a 43-10 victory over Fresno State.

Plus, there’s the off-the-field activities.

“We put on quite a show,” Matlin says. “From all the teams we’ve had here over the years, they always tell me the same thing – we feed ’em the best! That’s the Hawaiian way.”

When the teams arrive in the Islands this week, they will be served up a feast of activities. Included will be trips to Pearl Harbor and the water park, a luau at The Royal Hawaiian, a barbecue at the Moana Surfrider and a dinner at Waikiki Aquarium, among many other great venues for the two teams to enjoy Hawaiian hospitality. “And, of course, they have to find some time to practice, too,” Matlin says, laughing.

Boise State and Oregon State fans also may double up on their sports, as both the Broncos and Beavers men’s basketball teams also are in town for ESPN’s Diamond Head Classic, Dec. 22-23 and Christmas Day at Stan Sheriff Center. Other teams participating in the 2013 Diamond Head Classic include South Carolina, George Mason, Iowa State, St. Mary’s, Akron and host Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors take on Boise State Sunday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m.

“It would be nice if the football teams can drop by to support their teams,” Matlin says, “but it depends on their very busy schedules.”

The many peripheral activities and tremendous football match-up add up to the fact that the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl 2013 is a great holiday present for sports fans both locally and nationally.

See you at the game!