Gridiron Spotlight: Teams to watch in Week 1
Houston will be lining up against No. 4 Oklahoma in Week 1 for its season opener, but teams that the Cougars will face later on in their season will be playing games with many implications for UH’s 2019.
While UH won’t be directly playing some of these teams, the results of each can affect Houston’s season in big ways.
UCLA vs. Cincinnati
Thursday night’s UCLA vs. Cincinnati matchup will make for a great season opener for both teams, with it being the second straight year where these two programs meet for their first game of the year. Cincinnati defeated UCLA 26-17 in 2018, but second-year Bruins head coach Chip Kelly will look to bounce back not only against the Bearcats but against the competitive Pac-12 competition he and the team will face.
A win for Cincinnati in this matchup helps their case for a top-25 spot in the rankings given UCLA’s Power Five status.
Houston will face Cincinnati at home on Oct. 12, and a win over the Bearcats would push the Cougars higher toward the top-25 as well if the Bearcats were to pull out a victory in their season opener against the Bruins.
No. 19 Wisconsin vs. South Florida
Wisconsin, one of the three ranked programs competing against American Athletic Conference teams, head down to Tampa to start their season against South Florida. The Badgers are favorites and could find an easy victory, but an upset for USF would be big not only for the Bulls, but for Houston as well.
UH will not meet USF head-to-head this season, but both programs will play many of the same teams, such as Central Florida, Memphis and Cincinnati. A win for USF in Week 1 can boost UH’s resume later in the season.
A victory for USF against Wisconsin would also give the AAC ‘s season performance more weight come bowl season.
Tulsa vs. No. 18 Michigan State
Much like the season-opening game between Wisconsin and South Florida, this matchup will hold much more meaning heading toward conference play because of MSU’s top-25 ranking and Big Ten status.
When the time comes to look at significant wins in every team’s season, a victory for the Green Wave over the Spartans will stand out on paper, and even more in the conversation of which AAC teams will rise in season and conference rankings.
Ole Miss vs. Memphis
Memphis hosting Ole Miss will be an interesting matchup for a season opener, as the SEC has been the dominant conference over the AAC since the American’s inception. Since 2013, the SEC holds an 18-7 record over the AAC.
The Tigers are 1-7 against SEC teams since 2010, but a victory over the Rebels would give them a sizable advantage in the out-of-conference record column.
UH and Memphis have met 27 times in their respective histories, with the Cougars holding the 15-12 advantage.
However, Memphis has won their last three meetings against Houston, including 2018’s matchup that claimed the American West for the Tigers to send them to the AAC Championship Game.