The last time Mike MacIntyre brought a team to Aloha Stadium it didn’t end well.
That was back in 2010, when MacIntyre was in the midst of a 1-11 season at San Jose State, his first year as a college head coach.
MacIntyre’s Spartans lost 41-7 to Hawaii then.
Now in his third year at Colorado, MacIntyre is looking for different result when his Buffaloes open the season Thursday night against the Rainbow Warriors, the second meeting between the two programs in two years.
Colorado won last year’s game in Boulder by a score of 21-12. It was the last win of 2014 for the Buffaloes, who finished the season on an eight-game losing streak.
"The past is the past," MacIntyre said. "Both teams are new teams, both teams have new players in new roles and both teams are filled with optimism, as they should be, so it should be a heck of a game."
A few things to look for when the Rainbow Warriors host the Buffaloes:
SPRUCE IT UP: Among the key players for Colorado is wide receiver Nelson Spruce, who set single-season school records for receptions (106) and receiving yards (1,198) in 2014. His 12 touchdown catches ranked seventh nationally and he was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, presented annually to the nation’s top receiver. The fifth-year senior had 13 receptions for 172 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown, against Hawaii last year. His streak of 25 consecutive games with at least one reception is the fourth longest in school history. "He’s critical to our offense," MacIntyre said. "He makes the offense go, so to speak, and he’s bigger and stronger this year so we’re looking for him to have another incredible year."
INTRODUCTION TO DEFENSE: The game will be the first at Colorado for new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, who spent the last four years as the linebackers coach for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and previously was head coach at South Florida from 1996 to 2009. Among those Leavitt coached at the pro level were stars Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. He will also oversee the linebackers for the Buffaloes.
WITTEK’S DEBUT: USC transfer Max Wittek will make his much-anticipated debut for the Rainbow Warriors after sitting out the 2014 season as required by the NCAA. The Norwalk, California-native played in 14 games and made two starts in his two seasons at USC. Wittek won the starting job over incumbent Ikaika Woolsey and was selected by his teammates as a captain for the 2015 season.
WELCOME TO HAWAII: Among the new faces on the Hawaii coaching staff are offensive coordinator Don Bailey and defensive coordinator Tom Mason. Bailey spent the last four seasons at Idaho, while Mason is coming off a seven-year stint at SMU. Special teams coordinator Jake Cookus came over from Montana, where he spent the last two years, making Hawaii just one of two FBS programs nationwide that replaced coordinators in all three facets of the game.
UP ALL NIGHT: The 7:04 p.m. kickoff in Honolulu translates to an 11:04 p.m. start in Colorado, but MacIntyre isn’t worried about his team playing what amounts to a late-night game. "It’s not a concern at all; they’re college students," MacIntyre said. Colorado got in on Tuesday so the team could adjust. "If this were the middle of the season and we had played six games by now and we’re flying in on a Friday and playing Saturday night, that’s different," MacIntyre said. "But for the first game you’re fresher and you haven’t traveled so it’s not as big a deal."