There’s so much unknown with the Houston Cougars this year. Dana Holgorsen inherits an elite offense, but must fix a broken defense. The schedule doesn’t do them many favors, but it also presents a unique opportunity. Whether or not you think it will happen, winning out puts the Cougars in position to make the College Football Playoff. Before the season begins, let’s take look at each opponent a little closer.
September 1st - at Oklahoma
Easily the toughest game on the schedule, and it’s right away. The Sooners have produced the last two Heisman Trophy winners and made the playoff twice as well. Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts decided to transfer to Norman, and provides the Sooners with a clutch player they’ve needed. The biggest question for each team is their defenses. Both Oklahoma and Houston’s offense should have a field day, and whoever’s defense plays average will most likely win.
September 7th - vs. Prairie View A&M
It’s cliche to say, but we should see the backups play in this one. After dominating Texas Southern 70-14 last year, the Cougars get another FCS team on the schedule. The Panthers did a little better than the Tigers last year, but it shouldn’t affect this game too much.
September 13th - vs. Washington State (NRG Stadium)
Washington State surprised many last year with 11 wins, and Mike Leach’s team will test Houston’s secondary. A group that returns Gleson Sprewell and Deontay Anderson need to prove they’re a much better unit than last year. If the Cougars somehow find a way to beat Oklahoma in Week 1, this game carries much more weight. It’s still a great opportunity to beat a Power 5 team, and we saw what happened the last time Houston played in NRG Stadium.
September 19th - at Tulane
Houston’s won 13 of the last 15 meetings with the Green Wave, but this year could prove to be tough. Tulane’s offense boasts a plethora of skill players, including Oklahoma State transfer Jalen McCleskey. Their defense poses a problem as well. D’Eriq King will find life tough with Patrick Johnson chasing him down. Houston may dominate the series, but the Green Wave won’t back down.
September 28th - at North Texas
Their first meeting since 2012, and just the third meeting since 1980. Like the team above, North Texas returns plenty of talent. Quarterback Mason Fine is one of the best in the country, and can pick apart defenses before the play starts. Coaches rave about his abilities pre-snap, and say he’s a coach on the field. Houston’s the better team here, but that’s not going to scare away the Mean Green.
October 12th - vs. Cincinnati
It’s a tough set of divisional crossover games for the Cougars this year. Instead of USF and ECU, they get Cincinnati and UCF. The Bearcats are coming off an 11-win season in 2018, and present the toughest defense Houston faces in 2019. Though they lost much of their defensive line, Cincinnati’s defense is rugged. Throw in an offense that exploded last year (relative to years prior), and the Cougars have their fourth consecutive tough game.
October 19th - at UConn
Despite UConn’s struggles, they do own a win against Houston in 2015. That was the lone loss for the Cougars that season, but it’s tough to see that happening again. Even if it is in Connecticut. If you need a great fantasy week, load up on the Cougars here.
October 24th - vs. SMU
Lately, the Mustangs have given the Cougars everything they can handle, and this year figures to be no different. Both teams possess great potential at receiver, and each team’s secondary won’t love this one. Guarding guys like James Proche and Marquez Stevenson make for long days if you’re a defensive back. The more you look at the Cougars schedule, the more difficult it becomes.
November 2nd - at UCF
At this point, more people wonder how the Knights will be more so than Houston. With McKenzie Milton injured, how will Brandon Wimbush do? This is one of the most talented teams on the Cougars schedule, but we’re still not sure what their record will be coming into this game. If they’re undefeated, it will be difficult for Houston to come out of Orlando with a win. If they’re not, things could get interesting.
November 16th - vs. Memphis
Momentum’s shifted towards the Tigers as of late, and Houston finds themselves playing catch-up. Mike Norvell’s built a successful program in his few years with Memphis, and has created a great culture as well. Houston gave the Tigers a game last year with Clayton Tune running the show in King’s absence. They ultimately couldn’t keep up and fell 52-31. King’s healthy is crucial for the offense, and the defense can’t be depleted again if they want to win.
November 23rd - at Tulsa
Surprisingly, Tulsa’s the team that’s given Houston the most trouble as of late. Even though the Cougars won four of the last five meetings, it’s never been easy. Phillip Montgomery’s teams play tough in this game, so we should expect nothing less. One thing the Cougars defense has struggled with is stopping the run, and this year presents a similar challenge. Corey Taylor II and Shamari Brooks returns for the Golden Hurricane, and a competent quarterback adds another layer of difficulty.
November 30th - vs. Navy
In 2016, Houston’s eyes were set on the College Football Playoff. Then Navy stunned them to end those hopes. This year, the Midshipmen are looking to rebound. Stopping the triple option hasn’t been easy for Houston’s defense, and that’s made the games close. Navy’s giving Malcolm Perry one more chance at quarterback, and his big play abilities give them a chance to keep this one competitive.