Due to my last-minute business trip to Dubai, I am not going to have the time to write a lengthy preview for the upcoming college football season. And, as far as my Coogs are concerned, that's probably a good thing because I really don't know what to expect.
Case Keenum is gone. Kevin Sumlin is gone. The 2012 University of Houston Cougars also feature a completely new receiving corps and defensive scheme. Given all that, it is only natural to expect a drop-off from last year's 13-1 season. But there's nevertheless reason for optimism. The schedule works in Houston's favor: it is relatively easy and features eight games in the city. The offense returns Charles Sims, a formidable dual-threat running back who rushed for 821 yards last season, and David Piland, whose "baptism by fire" occurred when he started eight games as a true freshman in the 2010 season, will take over at quarterback. The defense must adapt to a new 4-3 base scheme, but returns six starters from a 2011 squad which was actually rather capable, considering Houston's historic weakness on that site of the line.
For what it's worth, collegefootballpoll.com, whose Congrove algorithm has accurately predicted Houston's record within two wins or losses eleven out of the last eighteen seasons, foresees an 11-1 regular-season campaign, while Jeff Sagarin's preseason ratings put Houston 37th and imply a 12-0 regular season when ratings against other teams are compared. I don't expect the Coogs to come away from the 2012 season with that many wins, however; they've lost just too much talent from last season and UCLA and SMU on the road and Tulsa and Louisiana Tech at home are all going to be very tough games under any circumstance. But the Coogs still have enough to work with such that a winning season is nevertheless likely and another Conference USA West division title is certainly possible.
I'm going to predict an eight-win season for 2012. It won't be good enough to get the Cougars a conference championship in their last season in Conference USA, and it won't be good enough for an end-of-season top 25 ranking. But considering that the Cougars are in something of a rebuilding mode this season, it will be good enough to keep the program moving in the right direction as they move to their new home in the Big East in 2013.
For a very good an comprehensive preview, check out Pre-Snap Read's write-up on the Coogs.