Prior to that 2001 game, BYU had beaten Hawaii 17 out of 20 times, with 11 of those victories coming in Honolulu. Besides the fact the Cougars dominated the series for so long, the rivalry was fanned by the flames of familiarity.
With a strong population of members of the LDS Church in Hawaii, and with a high number of Polynesians from Hawaii populating BYU's roster over the years, this game has lasting implications.
Why is the rivalry so important in Hawaii?
"Some of it's because BYU in the past, and even now, has had Polynesians from the Island," said current Cougar defensive back Simote Vea, who hails from Hau'ula and remembers cheering for Hawaii in the '01 game. "So when we go back, it's kind of a rivalry between us Hawaiians (at BYU) versus the Hawaiians that stayed there. That's why it's a big game. It's a rivalry game for them.
"Where I live there's a big pool of members (of the LDS Church). We know a lot of the members on their team and they know us. The church influence has a big part of it … There will be a lot cheering for both sides."
Lewis said when Norm Chow was BYU's offensive coordinator during the 1980s and 1990s, he had resounding success recruiting Hawaiian players to Provo.
"With those players coming back to play made the game more special," he said. "Those players were able to come back and make a statement. There was a lot of familiarity between the players and coaches."
Then, the decision by BYU and seven other schools to abandon Hawaii and the rest of the Western Athletic Conference in 1998 to form their own conference didn't sit well in Honolulu. Fans harbored an animosity toward BYU that found expression after Hawaii's rout of the Cougars in 2001.
That familiarity, and animosity, isn't as strong anymore, but there is interest on both sides to revive the rivalry. The two schools have signed a deal to play almost every year through 2020.
"We look forward to renewing this rivalry. It's been a long time," said BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall. "I know at one point this was a significant game for both schools. Possibly we could develop that into a game like that. This will be one of the first steps."
Mendenhall also discussed the recruiting and scheduling benefits that come with playing at Hawaii.
"We're looking for the most intriguing matchups possible in scheduling. It made a lot of sense," said Mendenhall, who explained he would like to play Utah in the regular-season finale every year, but that Hawaii would be his second choice. "I would love to have the last game of the season have something of special significance before your bowl game. I think that's good for college football."
For now, however, the scheduled meetings between the two teams will take place in September, October and early November.
This year's showdown is the regular-season finale, sparking memories of that Hawaii victory 10 years ago. BYU did exact a measure of revenge the following year with a 35-32 win in Provo, but it's that 2001 game that had the biggest impact.
"It led to the creation of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, which we have now," Lewis said. "It was big because it was the last one played here in the series, and it was a big one to go out that way. It was a boost for the program. It was huge in several ways."
Starting this year, the Hawaii-BYU rivalry, in some form, has returned.
BYU VS. HAWAII IN THE ISLANDS
The Cougars and Warriors have staged several memorable battles over the years. Here's a glance at some of those games played at Aloha Stadium:
In coach LaVell Edwards' first game at Hawaii, the Warriors kicked five field goals to defeat the Cougars, 15-13.
In a contest that would essentially decide the Western Athletic Conference championship, BYU edged Hawaii, 13-3.
During the Cougars' national championship run in 1984, one of their toughest games came against Hawaii, where BYU linebacker Kyle Morrell made what is considered the best defensive play in school history. He dove over the line of scrimmage late in the game to prevent a touchdown and help preserve an 18-13 victory.
Hawaii snapped a 10-game losing streak to BYU by drilling the Cougars, 56-14.
On the same day that BYU quarterback Ty Detmer won the Heisman Trophy, the Warriors blasted the Cougars again, 59-28.
In the season-opener, BYU held on for a 13-12 victory over the Warriors.
Going into this game, BYU was undefeated and ranked in the top 10. But it was playing without running back Luke Staley, who had won the Doak Walker Award earlier in the week. For Hawaii, this was like a bowl game, and the Warriors crushed the Cougars, 72-45.Cougars on the air
BYU (8-3) AT HAWAII (6-6)
Saturday, 5:30 p.m. MT
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
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