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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Football

Roundtable: Most important game of the season


Texas Tech defeated Houston last season in a close matchup at TDECU Stadium. This season, the two teams rematch up in Lubbock in another cross-Texas clash. File Photo / The Cougar

The UH football team will start its second season under head coach Major Applewhite in September, and expectations are for the Cougars to compete for the conference title.

The regular season can be a long 14 weeks, and rarely do teams make it through unscathed.

But not all games are rated equal, so three of our writers decided what they think is the most important game of the Cougars’ 2018-19 campaign.

Senior Staff Writer Jackson Gatlin

The most important game of the season will be Sept. 15 in Lubbock, facing off against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

This will be the second year in a row the Cougars have faced the Raiders, losing against them last year at TDECU stadium. This game will carry a lot of weight for two reasons.

First, the Raiders ended the Cougars’ nation-leading 16-game home winning streak last season, so there’s no better way to get revenge than handing the Raiders a loss in its own stadium.

Second, the first two games of the season against University of Arizona and Rice should be easy wins, which means Texas Tech represents the first truly challenging game of the season as well as the most difficult opponent UH will face throughout its 12-game schedule.

An early season victory against the Raiders will set the tone for a successful Cougar campaign.

Assistant Sports Editor Trenton Whiting

The most important game will be against either Tulsa or Tulane. Of course the games against higher competition will be big, but winning those is obvious.

Every year, it seems UH finds a way to drop a game against a team with a poor record that makes the Cougars’ resume seem worse than it is.

UH has not been able to have a double-digit win season since 2015, and in order to start establishing itself as a college football powerhouse, it has to start competing at a high level in the conference.

The past wins against high-level teams have been averaged out by losses against low-performing teams. This leads to UH being an average team on the national scale.

Houston has the potential to be much more, but until it can consistently beat lower-rated teams, Houston will be forced to remain in the middle of the pack.

UH also doesn’t play many ranked teams, so it won’t be able to get a single signature win that puts it in the top 25 discussion.

The team should be at a point where the competition will be close with the higher-ranked teams. If UH is able to avoid what seems to be an annual slip-up, it should be in the conversation for one of the top teams in the conference and New Year’s Six bowl game berth.

Staff Writer Christopher McGehee

If we are talking about the most important game as opposed to the hardest, then the answer is obvious. The most important game occurs every time the Cougars step on the field.

As a non-Power Five school, Houston cannot afford to lose a single game if it wants to sniff a NY6 bowl game as it did in 2015.

The team’s non-conference schedule this season includes four teams that went a combined 16-33 last season.

Texas Southern finished eighth in an FCS conference. Tech finished eighth in the Big 12, Arizona was seventh overall in the Pac-12 and Rice was 1-7 in C-USA.  

Combine that with what one could hardly consider a grueling conference schedule, and what you get is the expectation that Houston should go undefeated this year if it really is a top team.

The College Football Playoff selection committee has shown that the only way to overcome a weak schedule and make the playoff is to win handily against inferior opponents. That is why every game the Cougars play this season matters.

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