Colorado was a 14-point favorite at kickoff despite an ugly showing a week ago at California. The Buffs opened the game with a series of mistakes just as they did against the Bears in Berkeley, but managed to gather themselves in the second half.
The Buffs came on strong in the second half behind a strong rushing performance from tailbacks Rodney Stewart and Brian Lockridge, both of whom ran for more than 100 yards, and Justin Torres.
CU finished the day with 252 yards on the ground and two touchdowns from Stewart.
"Our O-line just dominated," coach Dan Hawkins said. "Our O-line was moving the line of scrimmage."
Quarterback Tyler Hansen connected on touchdown passes of 73 and 23 yards to Toney Clemons and Scotty McKnight respectively. The pass to Clemons midway through the fourth quarter was the longest play to date in the Dan Hawkins era in Boulder.
Hansen was 9-for-10 on third-down passes, throwing for 147 yards, two scores and eight first downs in those situations.
Hansen also ran the CU no-huddle offense effectively. It tired the Hawaii defense and forced the Warriors to take timeouts on defense to catch their breath.
"We kind of felt that a little bit, even in the first half that they were breathing and our guys wanted to get going and throw a rock on the gas pedal and get going," Hawkins said.
The Buffs started slowly, allowing an 80-yard pass on the second play of the game. Cornerback Jimmy Smith saved a touchdown and his teammates rallied with a four-play goal-line stand. A muffed punt gave Hawaii another chance from the CU 3-yard line later in the first quarter, but the Buffs forced three incomplete passes and Hawaii missed a 20-yard field goal attempt.
Hawaii led 10-0 at halftime, but the Buffs scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter and the defense scored on a safety when Anthony Perkins tackled running back Alex Green in the end zone after linebacker Tyler Ahles put pressure on Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz.
CU outgained Hawaii 328 yards to 100 in the second half.
Reporters noticed Hawkins had a cut on his nose after the game. It happened when the coach headbutted one of his players during a rowdy pregame session in the locker room.
"It was good to see these guys get a little confidence and get a little wind underneath their wings," Hawkins said.