Houston Cougars: The 2014 Schedule is Set Up Nicely for U of H to Win the AAC


Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Houston football team resumed spring practice this week following a one week hiatus for spring break. While they were on break, the complete 2014 schedule was released. At first glance, the schedule sets up nicely for the Houston Cougars to win the American Athletic Conference in its second season.

While the games are certainly not played on paper, a comparison of the schedule that Houston played last season to the one they will play this year, shows 2014 to definitely be more favorable. It includes 12 games, with seven at home, including two against FCS schools. Four of the Coogs first five games will be at home in the brand new, soon to be completed, Houston Football Stadium. The stadium will make its debut on August 30th, when U of H hosts UTSA, who they beat 59-28 in San Antonio last season.

They host Grambling St. the following week before embarking on what should be their toughest road game of the season, a Thursday night trip to BYU. The Coogs will be looking to return the favor in the battle of the Cougars, as BYU knocked off U of H in a 47-46 shootout at Reliant last season. They then will return home to host another FCS school, Tennessee Tech, to wrap up the non conference portion of the schedule.

The AAC schedule will look a little different, and easier, for the Coogs than it was in the conference’s inaugural season. The conference says goodbye to two bowl teams, Louisville and Rutgers, who after a one season layover head to the ACC and Big Ten respectively. They will be replaced by Tulane and Tulsa, Houston’s old familiar foes from Conference USA.

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The Coogs open AAC play by hosting last year’s conference champs, UCF. Houston gets the Golden Knights at home this year, after dropping a tough 19-14 game that was the opener of a brutal road back to back with UCF and Louisville.

It will be a different looking UCF team than the Fiesta Bowl champion squad of last season, as their quarterback Blake Bortles and leading rusher, Storm Johnson will be in the NFL. U of H should benefit from catching them early in conference play.

Two of the Coogs next three are on the road, as they travel to Memphis and USF sandwiched around a home game vs Temple. Houston beat all three last season by an average of 10 points.

The next two weeks will be Conference USA reunion week, as Tulane then Tulsa come to town. It will be like the good “old” days at The Rob, as Houston will close out the first season in the new stadium after these match-ups. That leaves two road games left to close out the 2014 regular season, and those likely will have a huge say on who wins the conference.

The Coogs travel to Dallas on the Friday after Thanksgiving to face rival SMU. They would love a repeat of the scenario that occurred on the same day in 2013, a 34-0 shutout of the Mustangs at Reliant. They then wrap up the regular season at Cincinnati, which could be a winner take all AAC title bout. Houston should have no more than one, if any conference losses heading into this game. Therefore their championship destiny should be sitting in their own hands, which is right where they want it.