There are 128 teams that will compete on the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision level this season and 126 of them managed to work in a break somewhere.
The two that are going the maximum allowable regular season distance — 13 games in 13 consecutive weeks — without so much as an open date, Hawaii and Colorado, will square off at Aloha Stadium at 7 p.m. with something else in common, the pressing urgency to begin putting a string of frustrating seasons behind them.
Is it too early to invoke the "must-win" tag? Not for the teams that arrive at the intersection of Salt Lake Blvd. and Kamehameha Highway desperate to demonstrate they have finally turned a corner on their long-ailing football fortunes.
UH, coming off a 4-9 finish in 2014, tries to begin separating itself from four consecutive losing seasons. Meanwhile, Colorado, which finished 2-10, seeks an end to an eight-year run of losing campaigns, the longest in its 125-year history.
The Rainbow Warriors have the most talented 22 they’ve fielded in four years, complete with a new, strong-armed quarterback, Max Wittek, who has thrown a touchdown pass against the Buffaloes — albeit as a USC Trojan redshirt freshman in 2012.
They also have new offensive and defensive coordinators — again — and rebuilt coaching staff.
For the ‘Bows, who are staring at a road gauntlet that takes them to nationally ranked Ohio State, Wisconsin and Boise State, the Buffaloes represent the best chance to beat a fellow FBS member for more than a month. At least until San Diego State comes to town Oct. 10.
Without a victory over Colorado the following, not to mention the chances of a bowl, figures to be considerably thinned by the time the Aztecs arrive if UH is 1-4.
For CU, the schedule sets up much more favorably with UH, Massachusetts, Colorado State and Nicholls State in succession. They are all games in which the Buffaloes, who are a seven-point betting pick against UH, should be favored.
With any luck, Colorado faithful will tell you, they see the very real possibility if not expectation of a 4-0 start, which would mean being more than halfway to the seven victories required for bowl eligibility when Pac-12 play opens Oct 3.
That’s no small consideration for a program that hasn’t been to the postseason since 2007, didn’t win a conference game in 2014 and is picked to finish last in its division this year.
The Buffaloes, who return 32 underclassmen who figured in last year’s two deep, have been touting maturation and experience for 2015 after taking their lumps.
But selling the notion of an improving team on course for a breakthrough season becomes significantly tougher if the Buffaloes lose to UH, the only team they have beaten since Sept. 20, 2014, a 21-12 victory that has been followed by eight consecutive losses.
How do you make a 13-games-in-13-weeks college football schedule seem like even more of an arduous uphill slog?
If you are UH or Colorado, you fail to win the opening one, tonight.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820