The University of Colorado comes into the season in unfamiliar territory. No longer a part of the Big 12, the Buffalos of Boulder are facing a new challenge, being a part of the newly formed Pac 12. One of the two new additions, Colorado faces the challenge of relocation into a new conference, albeit a weaker one than their previous home the Big 12. A humbling 3-9 season, including 2-6 in the conference last year, leaves the Buffalos hoping for a new opportunity in the upcoming seasons. Their schedule will include familiar Big 12 teams this season, but after this they will have fully relocated and play the likes of the Trojans, Ducks, Beavers, and Cardinals.
The Warriors from the University of Hawaii have struggled to get back to peak form after a great run in the 2007 season. Finishing 7-7 and 6-7 the previous two seasons, the Warriors know that they must perform better and rise above the mediocrity that has plagued them recently after losing former head coach June Jones. Former defensive coordinator and current head coach Greg Mcmackin has his hands full this season with a difficult schedule that includes the Trojans, Boise St., Fresno St., and Nevada, all of which posted better records than Hawaii last year.
Coming into the September 18th matchup, both the Buffalos and Warriors face higher expectations. Coach Dan Hawkins of Colorado has struggled in his four seasons as head coach posting a poor record of 16 wins and 33 losses. His rope is much shorter than before and needs his players and team to perform at a much higher level if they want to compete and make some noise in the Pac 10. Meanwhile the Warriors need to find the consistency to play in bowl games once again. A late loss last season to Wisconsin shot down any hopes of a bowl berth against SMU and coach June Jones in the Hawaii Bowl, ending the season on a very sour note.
There is hope for the Buffalo though, as their first home game of the season will come against the Warriors. Returning are junior quarterback Tyler Hansen, who threw for 8 touchdowns and 1440 yards last season after replacing Cody Hawkins as the starting quarterback, as well as junior tailback Rodney Stewart, who rushed for 9 touchdowns and 804 yards without a fumble. There is no doubt they will play better and learn from previous experience how to play in close games. On the other side of the ball, the team's defense which allowed 28.8 points per game will also have some returning players who hope to be able to take a little pressure off of the offense. Games against the Sooners, Cornhuskers, and Jayhawks will be the tests to show their improvement from the previous season, while the game on September 18th against the Warriors will be a competitive match up to get them ready.
For Hawaii, their biggest challenge comes from within. The schedule they have is a bit difficult but not too much harder than previous seasons, so they will know what to expect. Junior quarterback Bryant Moniz who threw for 14 touchdowns and 2,396 yards will have another season under his belt and come back more seasoned for a run at redemption. Not alone, Moniz will have star wide receiver Greg Salas entering his senior season. Salas finished last year with 8 touchdowns and 1,590 yards which was third best in the nation. Hawaii will no doubt be better on the offensive end, an off year where they put up 22.8 points a game, while allowing nearly 30 points per game on the defensive end. If the Warriors want to improve they will need to commit to the defensive end, something head coach Greg McMackin should know plenty about.
Both schools are in need of a strong rebound season, both capable of achieving their goal. While no one expects either school to contend for a BCS bid, the expectations are high enough to capture the interest of many college football fans across the country. The Warriors and Buffalos will have a lot of questions to answer going into the season, but once play starts, the teams will stop all the talking and speculation and go out and do what they do best, play football. Come September 18th, each school will have played two games, looking towards a very competitive match up. Both teams will need this game a potential launching pad to success and will give it their all to do so. Tune in September 18th on Fox College Sports to watch the University of Hawaii take on the University of Colorado in Boulder.