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Thursday, October 5, 2023


Big 12 schedule breakdown: Bigger conference, better competition

The Houston Cougars host UTSA on September 2 in the team’s season opener. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

While every season brings new challenges, 2023 represents a new frontier of competition for the Cougars as they head into the Big 12.

Tougher opposition, added pressure and heightened media attention make UH’s debut season as a Power Five team one for the books. Here’s a sneak peak at the lineup UH will be facing as the team heads into 2023.

Games 1-4: Staying in H-Town

For the second straight year, the Cougars will begin their season against UTSA — this time at TDECU Stadium. Last year’s matchup ended with a 37-35 triple-overtime thriller of a win for the Cougars. The team is expected to face off against the Roadrunners Sept. 2.

Houston will take part in the Bayou Bucket Classic against cross-town rival Rice Sept. 9. UH is currently on a seven year winning streak against the Owls that has spanned just over a decade.

UH’s first-ever in-conference game as a member of the Big 12 comes on Sept. 16, when the Cougars host TCU. The Horned Frogs are coming off a 13-2 season and appearances in the Big 12 Championship Game and the College Football National Championship Game, both of which they lost.

On September 23, TDECU Stadium hosts the first-ever matchup between UH and Sam Houston State, the latter of whom enters its first season in Conference USA and the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Games 5-7: Old friends return

The Cougars first away game is against Texas Tech on Sept. 30. With the past five games ending in defeat, Houston has not fared well head-to-head against Texas Tech in recent memory. Though with several high-profile transfers joining the program from Texas Tech this summer, such as junior quarterback Donovan Smith, this could be an opportunity for UH to turn the tide.

Returning to Houston, the Cougars will host West Virginia Oct. 12. Head coach Dana Holgorsen, who left West Virgina for UH in 2019, will be pitted against his former team in the Cougars’ third Big 12 game of the season.

In one of the bigger games slated for TDECU Stadium this fall, the University of Texas will visit the Third Ward on Oct. 21. The 2023 season is expected to be the only year the Longhorns will compete in the Big 12 alongside the Cougars, as the former will be departing for the Southeastern Conference before the 2024 season.

Games 8-12: The home stretch

UH’s first of only two trips beyond the Lone Star State in its regular season comes Oct. 28, when it faces off against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas before heading to Waco on Nov. 4 for the first Houston–Baylor matchup since 1995.

The Cougars return home on Nov. 11 to play fellow Big 12 newcomer Cincinnati on homecoming weekend. UH has lost the last three games against the Bearkats The most recent being a 35-20 loss in the 2021 American Athletic Conference Championship game.

UH hosts Oklahoma State on Nov. 18 for the team’s Senior Day before UCF — another Big 12 rookie — hosts Houston on November 25 for UH’s regular-season finale.

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