Houston will play Hawaii

Updated: December 2, 2003, 12:40 AM ET
Associated Press

HONOLULU -- Houston will play in its first postseason bowl since 1996 when it takes on Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Day.

The pairing of the Cougars against the host Warriors was announced Monday by Conference USA.

Houston (7-5, 4-4 C-USA) wrapped up its season with a 56-28 victory over Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday. Hawaii (8-4, 5-2 Western Athletic Conference) is coming off a 37-29 victory over Alabama and has one game left Saturday against Boise State (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP).

"One, it is a great opportunity for the players considering what they've done for this program," Houston athletic director Dave Maggard said in a news release. "Two, there is only one game played on Christmas Day, and that is the Hawaii Bowl -- I believe it will give us great exposure.

"Finally, Hawaii is a great opponent, and we want to play a great opponent."

The Cougars will be playing in their first bowl game since winning Conference USA's inaugural championship in 1996 and losing to Syracuse 30-17 in the Liberty Bowl. Houston is 7-6-1 all-time in bowl games.

Hawaii, which automatically qualifies for the Hawaii Bowl with six victories against Division I-A opponents, lost last year's inaugural contest to Tulane, 36-28. Hawaii is 2-2 all-time in bowl games, including a 1-1 mark under coach June Jones.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press