HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Making plans for the fall begins today, as the 2016 University of Hawai'i football schedule is complete after officials from the Mountain West Conference announced the league slate on Wednesday. The Rainbow Warriors will play six home games, six road contests and one neutral site game in Australia.
The 2016 season marks the first for head coach Nick Rolovich, who took charge of the team in December 2015, taking over the program after a 3-10 record in 2015, finishing sixth last season in the MW's West Division during the program's third year in the conference.
The 2016 slate features nine teams who participated in post-season bowls following the 2015 season.
Hawai'i will meet California in the first college football game of the 2016 season, in Sydney, Australia on Saturday, Aug. 27. The neutral-site matchup will be played at ANZ Stadium, originally constructed for the 2000 Summer Olympics, and will be the first-ever college football game played in Sydney, and the first American football event staged in Australia since 1999, when the Denver Broncos met the San Diego Chargers in the American Bowl. The Bears ended the 2015 season with an 8-5 record and topped Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl.
After returning from Australia, the Rainbow Warriors will head to the Midwest for the first meeting with Michigan since 1998 on Saturday, Sept. 3. The Wolverines finished the 2015 season with a 12-2 record, ranked No. 11/12 and defeated Florida in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl.
UH will then make its first appearance at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium, taking on UT Martin of the Football Championship Subdivision's (FCS) Ohio Valley Conference on Saturday, Sept. 10. The Rainbow Warriors and Skyhawks have never met on the football field. UTM ended the season 7-4, ranking third in the OVC, conference of 2015 national championship runner-up Jacksonville State.
The Rainbow Warriors then travel to Tuscon, Ariz. to face their second Pac-12 opponent of the year, Arizona, on Saturday, Sept. 17. The fifth-ever meeting with the Wildcats marks the fourth time in the past six years that UH take on two Pac-12 opponents in the same campaign. The Wildcats finished 7-6 and defeated New Mexico in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
UH will then get an opportunity to rest up from the road with a week four open date.
Coming off the BYE week, UH will open MW play with Nevada at Aloha Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 1, beginning conference play with the former team of coach Rolovich. The Wolf Pack finished 7-6 after beating Colorado State in the inaugural NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
The Rainbow Warriors will then alternate road and home MW contests for the next seven consecutive weeks, beginning at San José State (Saturday, Oct. 8), followed by UNLV (Saturday, Oct. 15) at home, 2015 MW Runner-Up Air Force (Saturday, Oct. 22) on the road, New Mexico at home (Saturday, Oct. 29), defending MW Champion San Diego State (Saturday, Nov. 5) on the road, Boise State (Saurday, Nov. 12) at home and Fresno State (Saturday, Nov. 19) in the Valley.
UH will close out the 2016 slate on Senior Night against Massachusetts on Nov. 26. The Minutemen will be in their first season as a Football Bowl Subdivision independent, finishing 3-9 in 2015 and leaving the Mid-American Conference following the end of the 2015-16 school year.
The Mountain West scheduling format for the 12-member football lineup consists of five intra-divisional games and three cross-divisional contests. Each institution will play four home and four road conference games. This is the fourth year of the initial four-year cycle in which each member institution will play every other MW opponent home and away.
The Mountain West Football Championship Game will be played at the home stadium of the highest-ranked of the two divisional champions on Saturday, Dec. 3.