Sunday, February 18, 2018

2018 Houston Cougar football schedule released

The 2018 University of Houston Cougar football schedule came out a few days ago:

     Sat Sep 01     at Rice
     Sat Sep 08     Arizona
     Sat Sep 15     at Texas Tech (Lubbock)
     Sat Sep 22     Texas Southern
     Sat Sep 29     (off)
     Thu Oct 04     Tulsa
     Sat Oct 13     at East Carolina (Greenville)
     Sat Oct 20     at Navy (Annapolis)
     Sat Oct 27     South Florida
     Sat Nov 03    at SMU (Dallas)
     Sat Nov 10    Temple
     Thu Nov 15    Tulane
     Fri Nov 23     at Memphis

There are things to like about this schedule, and there are things not to like. I like the fact that the Cougars get their week off in late September, between non-conference and conference play. I like the fact that this schedule has the Cougars leaving the state of Texas only three times during the entire season. I like that this schedule has only one instance of back-to-back games on the road.

What's not to like? Two Thursday night home games, for starters. These games are attendance-killers, especially given that they are against teams that don't command much interest in Houston: Tulsa and Tulane. Don't even get me started about the effect these games will have on tailgating. The Coogs will have a short week to prepare for an improved Tulane team that beat them last season, which is also not optimal.

This schedule is going to make it very tough for the Cougars to contend for the AAC West title. In addition to getting Tulane on a short week of rest, the Cougars have to face division foes Navy, SMU and Memphis on the road. And sandwiched between those road trips to Navy and SMU? A revenge-minded South Florida team that won 10 games last season.

Other tidbits: former UH head coach Kevin Sumlin returns to town with his new team, the Arizona Wildcats, on September 8th. He is unlikely to receive a particularly warm welcome from the UH faithful. The Cougars host Texas Southern as reciprocation for allowing UH's basketball program to use TSU's HP&E arena as a temporary home this season. The Cougars play three former SWC conference mates (Rice, SMU and Texas Tech) for the second year in a row.

Other than the Rice game (which really doesn't count as a "roadie" anyway), I probably won't be making any trips to away games this season. There just aren't any easy trips on this schedule, and although I definitely want to visit Annapolis someday, this year won't be the year to do it.

I'll have my customary season preview and prediction up in August, but as of right now I'm looking at this schedule and not feeling particularly optimistic. A lot of the teams the Cougars are playing this fall are improving, while the Coogs themselves took a step backwards last season.

Ryan Monceaux's thoughts on the schedule are worth a read.

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