The 2022 Cougar Football Schedule was released today by the American Athletic Conference. It could be UH’s last football season in the AAC.
As previously known, UH will play the out-of-conference schedule in the first four weeks, which most coaches will tell you they prefer. Playing OOC games first allows coaches to focus on the conference race exclusively. But going back to Kim Helton, UH has played all of the OOC games before conference play begins in only six of the last 25 UH seasons. Unfortunately, two of those six were wasted on Major Applewhite.
Back-to-back road games to start the season is a tough ask, even if both are in-state and against teams with similar or lesser talent than UH. Houston has not begun a season with two true road games since 2007, and it’s only happened one other time in the last 30 years (2000). The Coogs started with two true road games in 1986, 1988, and 1989.
Lagniappe: The ’88 and ’89 teams outscored those four home teams (LaTech, Mizzou, UNLV, Arizona State) 196-14.
UH will open the season in a (likely) sold-out Alamodome against UTSA. It will be the third time a UH team, coming off of 10+ wins, opens a season against an opponent coming off 10+ wins (1974, 2016). It’s the first time both teams have 12+ wins.
Texas Tech will get Mercer at home before hosting UH, just the kind of warm-up a new head coach like Joey McGuire needs before seeing UH. Dana Holgorsen won’t need to do any extra work to get his team up to beat Tech in Lubbock. After that, the Cougars start the home schedule with Kansas and Rice, which should be two wins over teams over inferior rosters.
Here’s where the schedule gets weird: Tulane comes to town – the third home game in a row – on either September 29 or the 30th. This is a first – the game date not being locked down when the schedule is released. The game will either be Thursday or Friday night – the seventh time since 2011 that UH will play Tulane on a weeknight.
Coogs then go to Memphis on Friday night, October 7th. Following that, the Cougars get the off-week, perfectly scheduled after six games (three road, three home). The second half of the schedule is also three games each at home and three on the road.
After the break, UH goes to Annapolis for what could be the last time. Then, three straight weeks back in Texas: home for USF, at SMU, and home for Temple. The four-game stretch after the off-week is the most important of the season: 3 very winnable games and the revenge/rivalry/positioning game with Rhett Lashlee and SMU.
UH finishes the year with the brutal trip to ECU and home for Tulsa. The Cougars have played ECU for 25 years in C-USA and the AAC, and this will be only the sixth trip to Greenville in the regular season (1998, 2003, 2008, 2012, 2018). The Cougars host Tulsa on Thanksgiving weekend, either Black Friday or Saturday (same uncertain schedule as the Tulane game).
There is no back-to-back killer stretch on this schedule, very much like last season. But the 2022 schedule trades @UConn for @UTSA (harder) and Grambling for Kansas (harder). The AAC road games are more difficult (@SMU, @Memphis), and UH has to go to ECU, which is always a weird trip.
But contrary to what many imagined might happen, the AAC did not screw over the departing Coogs. Instead, the schedule lays out nicely, giving Houston an excellent chance to get back to the AAC title game, likely in a rematch with Cincinnati.