HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since 2005, the Rainbow Warriors have played at least one Pac-12 opponent each year, and for the 6th straight season they'll open with one, Colorado, a program that needs a win to start the year as much as Hawaii.
"A lot of people enjoy going to Hawaii for the first time," said Colorado senior running back Christian Powell. "But at the end of the day, we're going out there to play a game. It's a business trip."
It's been a tough two years for Mike MacIntyre as he tries to rebuild the Colorado football program from the ground up. The Buffaloes are 6-18 under his watch, coming off a 2-10 season a year ago that saw zero conference wins, but there is optimism in Boulder.
Quarterback Sefo Liufau returns more experienced, and with his favorite target also back. Senior wide receiver Nelson Spruce holds or shares 35 school records and is a preseason candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top wideout.
"He's the kind of guy you'd like to have three of on your team," said Hawaii defensive coordinator Tom Mason. "He's nothing that really scares you, he just makes plays. He has the ability to keep them hanging around in a game."
There's plenty of optimism surrounding the Rainbow Warriors offense with the highly-anticipated debut of senior transfer quarterback Max Wittek. It's been nearly two years since the former USC Trojan has played in a collegiate game.
"I'm ready to go," Wittek said. "That's all I really know how to say now, is that I'm ready to go. It's that time."
It's also the UH debut for offensive coordinator Don Bailey, who moved up to the FBS after a successful turnaround at Idaho State.
"We just want to make sure to get in a rhythm," said Bailey who admitted everyone will be feeling first game jitters. "Get everybody in a rhythm offensively and get a good start."
For the Hawaii seniors, it's their final chance to right the ship after a tough few years. With Ohio State, Wisconsin and Boise State all looming on the early season schedule, taking care of business against Colorado is a must.
"If we can come out with a couple good wins, I think we'll be set for the season going into conference play," said senior captain, and Colorado native, Ben Clarke. "The biggest thing is we want to go to a bowl game."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:04pm HST at Aloha Stadium. The game will air nationally on CBS Sports Network.