COLORADO AT HAWAII
Kickoff: 1 a.m. ET/11 p.m. PT
TV: CBS Sports Network
Las Vegas Line: Hawaii +7.5; O/U 59
Couldn’t afford an exotic, summer vacation this year? Save a cold one for the last kickoff of FBS opening night, stay up late and be whisked away to Honolulu from the comfort of your living room.
Colorado and Hawaii have both suffered through some lean years recently, but both are equipped to shake off their doldrums in 2015. I could see either the Buffs or Rainbow Warriors going bowling this year, but scoring a win on opening night (morning?) is pretty crucial to that process.
Quarterback Max Wittek is making his debut in what Hawaii head coach Norm Chow told me was Wittek’s “second chance.” Wittek transferred to the Island from USC, where he lost the starting competition to Cody Kessler in 2013.
Chow compared Wittek to former USC Heisman winner Carson Palmer, and Wittek has a big, talented wide receiver reminiscent of those the Trojans employed in Chow’s tenure as offensive coordinator: Marcus Kemp.
Hawaii nearly pulled upsets of Colorado’s Pac-12 counterparts Washington and Oregon State last season, and this is an improved Rainbow Warriors. So Hawaii should anticipate a win, right?
Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre has far-and-away his best team since arriving in 2013. While at 6-18 overall that might not be saying much, Colorado’s young roster went to the wire with several good teams last season. Junior quarterback Sefo Liufau could make a leap in his third year running the Buffs offense, especially with standout wide receiver Nelson Spruce back in the mix.
Colorado also has a new defensive coordinator, Jim Leavitt, overseeing a very veteran lineup. Hawaii will give Colorado everything it has, but long after much of the nation has gone to bed, the Buffs take one step toward ending the longest bowl drought of any Pac-12 program.
MY PICK: Colorado 35, Hawaii 27