The American Athletic Conference has never been quick about releasing football schedules but we do know who and where the Coogs will play in 2018. UH will face all 11 opponents from the 2017 schedule and adds TSU for the 12th game.
The home schedule is pretty much a dud with the exception of Kevin Sumlin returning to UH for his first game at TDECU Stadium. The six home games (Arizona, TSU, USF, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa) will draw few casual fans or big crowds on their own. Perhaps the addition of Kendal Briles will inspire new interest in the Coogs.
Familiar Faces in Non-Conference Slate
9/1 – at Rice
9/8 – Arizona Wildcats
9/15 at Texas Tech
9/29 Texas Southern
The opener across town at Rice will be a beatdown similar to 2017 – the Owls were dreadful last year and begin 2018 with a new head coach and philosophy. UH has played Rice 41 times (second-most in school history) but the game on 9/1/18 will be the first time the Coogs have played at Rice Stadium since a 2010 loss. The head coach for the Coogs that day? Kevin Sumlin.
A week later, Sumlin comes to Houston as Arizona‘s new head coach. UH didn’t face QB Khalil Tate last year in Tucson but he leads an offense that finished #3 in rushing in 2017. Tate ran for 1411 yards & 12 TDs despite not starting until week 6. UH held the Wildcats to their lowest regular season rushing total in 2017 (152 yards).
Sumlin’s new staff includes several coaches that Cougar fans are familiar with: Joe Gilbert and Clarence McKinney both coached at UH while Noel Mazzone, who was Sumlin’s first choice for OC in 2008, will be his coordinator in Tucson. Sumlin’s last OC at UH? Kliff Kingsbury.
And that’s who the Coogs will face in their trip to Texas Tech in week 3. The game in Lubbock will be UH’s first there since 2010 as well. At that time, Tech HC Kliff Kingsbury was finishing his first season as UH’s offensive coordinator under Sumlin. Current Tech coaches David Gibbs, Zach Spavital, and Clay Jennings, as well as former UH grad assistant Eric Morris, were all on the Houston staff in the last few years. Tech’s likely QB has just 1 start.
And then we play Texas Southern.
Quick Notes on AAC Opponents
American home games:
USF – will step back a little after losing QB Quenton Flowers. But no matter the QB, there’s always an excellent chance for a win over a Charlie Strong team.
Temple – improved as 2017 went on, winning 4 of their last 5. UH is 4-0 vs. the Owls since 2013 – Houston’s best record against a league opponent.
Tulane – an important game for Major Applewhite. He must atone for losing to the Greenies last year. Tulane is never very talented but they are well-coached under Willie Fritz.
Tulsa – another revenge game. Coogs were flat-out embarrassed last year by a horrible two-win Tulsa team.
American road games:
ECU – an awful program in disarray but a tough trip. Statistically, ECU finished last season dead-last in the country in most defensive categories.
Memphis – Tigers will be breaking in a new QB but the last 3 games in the series have been classics. UH might be breaking in a new QB as well. A possible omen? David Piland (4th start) and Greg Ward (first start) won early in their careers at Memphis.
Navy – Playing in Annapolis is a challenge. Will be difficult to get out of there with a win. Coach Ken loses 13 of his starting 22 and 3/4 of his offensive backfield in 2018.
SMU – Sonny Dykes’ debut for SMU in the Frisco Bowl was a stupid idea and a total disaster. Ponies lost 4 of their last 5 (and should have lost Tulane, too). QB Ben Hicks loses 182 receptions, 2300 yards and 25 TDs with the departure of WRs Trey Quinn and Courtland Sutton.