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2024 Conference USA Schedule Release: Notes and Takeaways

Weekday CUSA returns as the conference moves to 10 teams in 2024.

NCAA Football: Conference USA Football Championship-New Mexico State at Liberty Brian Bishop-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the 2023 football season, Conference USA was as unrecognizable as ever. The league lost six members last July to the American Athletic Conference, replacing them with independents and FCS risers.

By the time December rolled around, the conference was on its highest pedestal ever, competing on the grand stage of the New Year’s Six for the first time. Liberty won the 9-team league with an undefeated regular season, edging New Mexico State in the conference championship to earn a Fiesta Bowl bid.

In addition to Liberty’s rise to national prominence, which culminated in a season AP Top 25 finish, the CUSA found other ways to revel in the spotlight. Throughout the month of October, the conference took a page out of the Mid-American Conference’s book and showcased four weeks of weeknight football. College football fans familiarized themselves with stars like Diego Pavia and Kaidon Salter over this stretch, as well as first-year FBS programs Sam Houston and Jacksonville State, which were involved in a multitude of thrilling finishes.

After a banner year for the league, 2024 approaches. And once again, changes will occur to the ever-evolving league. The CUSA expands from 9 to 10 teams due to the addition of Kennesaw State from the FCS level. And in 2025, it will expand to 11 with the addition of Delaware.

On Thursday, the league unveiled its 2024 schedule, with Kennesaw State in the mix and the weekday games as a highlight. Here is the result:

2024 CUSA Football Schedule

Week Saturday Date FIU Jacksonville State Kennesaw State Liberty Louisiana Tech Middle Tennessee New Mexico State Sam Houston UTEP WKU
Week Saturday Date FIU Jacksonville State Kennesaw State Liberty Louisiana Tech Middle Tennessee New Mexico State Sam Houston UTEP WKU
1 Sat, Aug. 31 at Indiana* vs. Coastal Carolina* at UTSA* vs. Campbell (FCS)* vs. Nicholls (FCS)* vs. Tenn Tech (FCS)* vs. SEMO (FCS)* at Rice* at Nebraska* at Alabama*
2 Sat, Sep. 7 vs. Central Michigan* at Louisville* vs. Louisiana* at New Mexico State BYE at Ole Miss* vs. Liberty at UCF* vs. So Utah (FCS)* vs. EKU (FCS)*
3 Sat, Sep. 14 at Florida Atlantic* at Eastern Michigan* vs. San Jose State* vs. UTEP at NC State* vs. WKU at Fresno State* vs. Hawaii* at Liberty at Middle Tennessee
4 Sat, Sep. 21 vs. Monmouth (FCS)* vs. Southern Miss* BYE vs. East Carolina* vs. Tulsa* vs. Duke* at Sam Houston vs. New Mexico State at Colorado State* vs. Toledo*
5 Sat, Sep. 28 vs. Louisiana Tech BYE vs. UT-Martin (FCS)* at Appalachian State* at FIU at Memphis* vs. New Mexico* vs. Texas State* BYE at Boston College*
6 Sat, Oct. 5 BYE at Kennesaw State [Fri] vs. Jacksonville State [Fri] BYE BYE BYE BYE at UTEP [Thu] vs. Sam Houston [Thu] BYE
7 Sat, Oct. 12 at Liberty [Wed] vs. New Mexico State [Wed] BYE vs. FIU [Wed] vs. Middle Tennessee [Thu] at Louisiana Tech [Thu] at Jacksonville State [Wed] BYE at WKU [Thu] vs. UTEP [Thu]
8 Sat, Oct. 19 at UTEP [Wed] BYE at Middle Tennessee [Tue] BYE at New Mexico State [Tue] vs. Kennesaw State [Tue] vs. Louisiana Tech [Tue] vs. WKU [Wed] vs. FIU [Wed] at Sam Houston [Wed]
9 Sat, Oct. 26 vs. Sam Houston [Tue] vs. Middle Tennessee [Wed] vs. Liberty [Wed] at Kennesaw State [Wed] vs. UTEP [Tue] at Jacksonville State [Wed] BYE at FIU [Tue] at Louisiana Tech [Tue] BYE
10 Sat, Nov. 2 vs. New Mexico State [Tue] at Liberty [Wed] at WKU [Wed] vs. Jacksonville State [Wed] at Sam Houston [Tue] at UTEP at FIU [Tue] vs. Louisiana Tech [Tue] vs. Middle Tennessee vs. Kennesaw State [Wed]
11 Sat, Nov. 9 BYE at Louisiana Tech at UTEP at Middle Tennessee vs. Jacksonville State vs. Liberty vs. WKU BYE vs. Kennesaw State at New Mexico State
12 Sat, Nov. 16 at Jacksonville State vs. FIU vs. Sam Houston at UMass* at WKU BYE at Texas A&M* at Kennesaw State BYE vs. Louisiana Tech
13 Sat, Nov. 23 at Kennesaw State vs. Sam Houston vs. FIU vs. WKU at Arkansas* vs. New Mexico State at Middle Tennessee at Jacksonville State at Tennessee* at Liberty
14 Sat, Nov. 30 vs. Middle Tennessee at WKU at Louisiana Tech at Sam Houston vs. Kennesaw State at FIU vs. UTEP vs. Liberty at New Mexico State vs. Jacksonville State
15 Fri, Dec. 6 CUSA Championship [Fri] CUSA Championship [Fri] CUSA Championship [Fri] CUSA Championship [Fri] CUSA Championship [Fri] CUSA Championship [Fri] CUSA Championship [Fri] CUSA Championship [Fri] CUSA Championship [Fri] CUSA Championship [Fri]
* denotes non-conference game. Games are on Saturday unless otherwise noted.

Weekday CUSA returns

Last year, the CUSA operated in the national spotlight on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the first time ever. Primarily using ESPN2, ESPNU, and CBS Sports Network as the broadcast channels, the league exclusively played its conference slate on weeknights in October. The weeknight games are part of the CUSA’s 5-year media deal with these networks which began last fall and runs through the 2027 football season.

In 2024, the weeknight games somewhat commence on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 when UTEP hosts Sam Houston on Thursday and Jacksonville State pays a visit to Kennesaw State on Friday, while the rest of the week is on a bye. The following week, the conference plays two Wednesday and two Thursday games. Then on Oct. 15, the Tuesday matchups commence and the CUSA plays its games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until the first week of November. Here is the full weeknight schedule:

  • Thursday, Oct. 3: Sam Houston at UTEP
  • Friday, Oct. 4: Jacksonville State at Kennesaw State
  • Wednesday, Oct. 9: FIU at Liberty
  • Wednesday, Oct. 9: New Mexico State at Jacksonville State
  • Thursday, Oct. 10: Middle Tennessee at Louisiana Tech
  • Thursday, Oct. 10: UTEP at WKU
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15: Kennesaw State at Middle Tennessee
  • Tuesday, Oct. 15: Louisiana Tech at New Mexico State
  • Wednesday, Oct. 16: FIU at UTEP
  • Wednesday, Oct. 16: WKU at Sam Houston
  • Tuesday, Oct. 22: Sam Houston at FIU
  • Tuesday, Oct. 22: UTEP at Louisiana Tech
  • Wednesday, Oct. 23: Middle Tennessee at Jacksonville State
  • Wednesday, Oct. 23: Liberty at Kennesaw State
  • Tuesday, Oct. 29: New Mexico State at FIU
  • Tuesday, Oct. 29: Louisiana Tech at Sam Houston
  • Wednesday, Oct. 30: Jacksonville State at Liberty
  • Wednesday, Oct. 30: Kennesaw State at WKU

Six teams play four weeknight games: FIU, Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State, Louisiana Tech, Sam Houston, and WKU.

Four teams play three weeknight games: Liberty, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State, and UTEP.

Welcome, Kennesaw State

Kennesaw State is the only FBS newcomer in 2024, expanding the pool of teams to 134. The Owls are located in Kennesaw, GA and competed at the FCS level from their inception in 2015 through 2023. They originally operated in the Big South, then moved to the ASUN in 2022, and then assumed independent status in 2023 prior to their upcoming transition.

Kennesaw State won three conference championships in the Big South and qualified for the FCS Playoffs in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021. The Owls finished 3-6 last season and will enter the CUSA under head coach Brian Bohannon — the only coach in program history — who enters his 10th season at the helm.

Kennesaw State’s first-ever FBS contest is a road game at the Alamodome against UTSA on Saturday, Aug. 31. The Owls return home to Fifth Third Stadium (capacity 8,318, smallest in FBS) the following Saturday to host Louisiana in their first home game as an FBS member. Their CUSA opener transpires Week 6 vs. Jacksonville State on a Friday night. Kennesaw State will look to shatter its attendance record this season, which currently stands at 9,506 from its inaugural game in 2015.

Round-robin no more

Due to Kennesaw State’s presence in the conference, the CUSA conference slate is no longer a round-robin format like it was in 2023. Each team will play eight of the other nine teams in the conference. Here are the opponents each CUSA team will NOT face in 2024.

  • FIU will not play WKU
  • Jacksonville State will not play UTEP
  • Kennesaw State will not play New Mexico State
  • Liberty will not play Louisiana Tech
  • Louisiana Tech will not play Liberty
  • Middle Tennessee will not play Sam Houston
  • New Mexico State will not play Kennesaw State
  • Sam Houston will not play Middle Tennessee
  • UTEP will not play Jacksonville State
  • WKU will not play FIU

Championship rematch

While most September matchups are of the non-conference variety, CUSA play commences Week 2 for two notable opponents. On Saturday, Sept. 7, Liberty travels to Las Cruces to battle New Mexico State in a rematch of the 2023 CUSA Championship Game. The Flames and Aggies — two teams that jumped from independent status to the conference in 2023 — squared off twice last fall, and the Flames claimed the victory on both occasions. Both meetings transpired in Lynchburg, VA, including the CUSA Championship where Liberty emerged 49-35 in an offensive shootout, clinching a berth into the Fiesta Bowl.

While Liberty retains head coach Jamey Chadwell for the anticipated rematch, New Mexico State will be without Jerry Kill, who recently accepted a consultant role at Vanderbilt. The Aggies will be led by 2023 assistant Tony Sanchez, who served as UNLV’s head coach from 2015 through 2019.

Novembers in SEC country

The Southeastern Conference traditionally plays non-conference matchups on the penultimate week of the regular season, and oftentimes, the CUSA gets involved. Last year on Nov. 18, FIU played at Arkansas and New Mexico State took a trip to Auburn. The latter matchup garnered plenty of attention as New Mexico State throttled Auburn 31-10 on the road just seven days before the Iron Bowl.

This year, three CUSA members experience SEC country in the month of November. On Nov. 16, New Mexico State looks to make another statement as it travels to Texas A&M in a battle between Aggies. The following Saturday, on Nov. 23, Louisiana Tech treks up north to face Arkansas while UTEP tests its shade of orange against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.

Besides New Mexico State’s 2023 win over Auburn, current CUSA members to defeat SEC programs while a member of the conference include WKU, which knocked off Arkansas in 2019 and Vanderbilt in 2015, and Middle Tennessee, which defeated Missouri in 2016. And in 2022, one season before joining the CUSA, Liberty edged Arkansas.

Friday night lights

For the fifth consecutive year, the crown of the conference will be distributed on a Friday night. The 2024 Conference USA Championship Game is slated for Friday, Dec. 6 and will be hosted by the team with the best conference record. Given the dissolve of the Pac-12, the CUSA title game is only one currently set for Friday night, at the time of its schedule release.

The only current conference members to win the CUSA title game are Liberty (2023) and WKU (2015, 2016). All other winners in the event’s 19-year history are members of other conferences in 2024.