Today, Houston announced its football schedule for the 2017 season. Here is a look at what Major Applewhite’s first schedule will look like and a breakdown of the season.
9/2 at UTSA Roadrunners
9/9 at Arizona Wildcats
9/16 vs Rice Owls
9/23 vs Texas Tech Red Raiders
9/30 at Temple Owls
10/7 vs. SMU Mustangs
10/14 at Tulsa Golden Hurricanes
10/19 vs. Memphis Tigers
10/28 vs. East Carolina Pirates
11/4 at USF Bulls
11/18 at Tulane Green Wave
11/24 vs. Navy Midshipmen
- Houston leads the series against Texas Tech 18-11-1, but Tech won the last contest in 2010.
- Last time Houston lost a season opener? 2014. The opponent? UTSA. The Roadrunners are once again, looking for an upset.
- The Cougars are 12-3 against non-conference teams since 2014 and 3-0 against Top 10 teams in that same span.
- First observation is the non-conference schedule is easier than last year. Trading #3 Oklahoma and #5 Louisville for Arizona and Texas Tech are downgrades, but still challenges. Lamar and Texas State are replaced by Rice and UT-San Antonio, which are upgrades. Week 1 against UTSA shouldn’t be overlooked, as the Roadrunners are on the rise coming into 2017. Rumors out of San Antonio suggest there’s a good chance the game could be moved to Friday or Labor Day Sunday to get a national TV placement.
- The conference schedule excludes UCF and Cincinnati, which is a good thing despite what many may think. Houston snuck by the Knights by seven towards the end of the season, and UCF could be dangerous in the AAC this year. Cincinnati put up a fight despite the final score. With 11:45 left in the fourth quarter, the score was just 19-16 in favor of the Cougars. While Houston would eventually pull away, the Bearcats would have come in fired up in this matchup.
- Houston’s three regular season losses in 2016 all come to TDECU Stadium in 2017. Memphis, Navy, and SMU all hit the road to play the Cougars, and are three of Houston’s toughest matchups. The toughest matchup for the Cougars will be a trip to South Florida to face Heisman dark horse candidate Quinton Flowers and the Bulls.
- The second half of the season will be interesting, starting with games against Tulsa and Memphis within five days of each other. They will have eight days to prepare for ECU, but can’t get caught looking ahead to the trip to USF. Tulane proved last year they can be a nuisance, so Houston can’t overlook them either before they end the season against Navy.
This schedule is filled with solid teams all around. Besides Rice, there isn’t a game that I can say comfortably the Cougars will win. The biggest concern is the Tulsa and Memphis games in five days, and Applewhite will need to make sure his team is focused for that Thursday night game against the Tigers.
The 2016 Cougars started off on fire, but cooled down quickly and finished the year on a sour note at 9-4. Expectations for Applewhite aren’t as high as they were for the previous regime, and he can take advantage of that. With two top five teams removed from the schedule, the Cougars can now make sure they are prepared each and every week. There are definitely some difficult stretches in the season, but nothing that the talent in Houston can’t handle.