Season-makers and season-breakers, Part 1
DCTF picks the most important game on Texas college teams' schedules.
We’re ten days away from the release of the 2013 summer edition of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football – the Bible of Texas football – which marks the unofficial start of football season in the Lone Star State. And with the football fever descending on the state, it’s time to take a look at the schedules for each of the 12 FBS programs in the state. Over the next week, we’ll determine: what’s the most important game on each team’s docket?
Today: Baylor, Houston, North Texas, SMU, Rice and TCU
June 13: Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas State, UTSA and UTEP
Baylor: December 7 vs. Texas
It’s the season finale for the Bears, and by now, we’ll have a lot of questions answered. We’ll have a feel for how the offense looks with RB Lache Seastrunk and QB Bryce Petty, we’ll know how much the defense has improved and, generally, what the Bears look like. They’ll get a chance to close out the regular season against the rival Longhorns, on their home turf, and the Bears are always tough at home (just ask Kansas State). What’s more, we’ll also know a lot more about the Longhorns then. Will this be a battle for the Big 12 title? It’s possible, and if so, the Bears will have the all-important home-field advantage.
Houston: September 21 vs. Rice at Reliant Stadium
Let’s be honest: the American Athletic Conference – formerly the Big East – is largely a mystery. The only thing we think we know is that Louisville will be pretty darn good (and the Coogs have to go on the road to play Teddy Bridgewater and company). But where the Coogs will fall in the AAC is largely up for debate, since there are a lot of teams that feature limited familiarity. But there’s one team that Houston’s very familiar with – crosstown rival Rice – and they’ll get a good shot at them early in the season. This is an important early test for Houston coming off of the disappointing 2012, and these two programs look like they’re trending in opposite directions. If UH can knock off Rice for the Bayou Bucket, it would inspire tons of confidence heading into their new conference surroundings.
North Texas: October 5 at Tulane
Last year was disappointing for the Mean Green. A 4-8 record – a step back from the relative progress of 2011 – and the feeling that they let a couple of key conference games get away. But the 2013 season feels like a season of redemption, and they can kick that off (after a brutal non-conference trip to Athens, Georgia to play UGA) by taking on the Green Wave. This isn’t the Tulane squad of yesteryear – this team looks like it has a pulse – but this is still a team that the Mean Green should expect to beat, even on the road. They’ll have a week off to prepare for it, and they could really get off on the right foot in conference play by taking the fight to Tulane.
SMU: November 9 at Cincinnati
This was maybe the hardest one to pick. Do you take the season opener at home against Texas Tech? What about the game at Kyle Field against Texas A&M? What about the game on the road against archrival TCU? In the end, we went with what looks like a key conference matchup against Cincinnati. Cincinnati looks like it’s going to finish in the top quarter of the AAC, and the Ponies hope to be there, too. What better way to quickly establish yourself as a threat in the conference than to go on the road and beat a team that looks like it could be a power? And with Garrett Gilbert and Traylon Shead going up against Tommy Tuberville’s new-look offense, expect some points.
Rice: November 16 vs. Louisiana Tech
We think that Rice, riding the momentum of winning its final five games – including its bowl game – could be in for a really big year. The schedule sets up really well for the Owls, but hosting Lousiana Tech, especially late in the year, could be tricky. You know the Bulldogs – even without all-everything QB Colby Cameron – will have their offense humming by the time they roll into Rice Stadium for homecoming. Will the Owls have lived up to expectations by then – and thus make this an important game in their quest for Conference USA supremacy?
TCU: October 19 at Oklahoma State
There are a lot of different directions to go with TCU, because their schedule is a minefield. At Texas Tech, where the Frogs haven’t won since 1991? At Oklahoma, a true chance at taking the alpha dog status in the Big 12? Home for Texas, always a heated rival? At Kansas State? Home for Baylor? In the end, we went with a midseason tussle on the road against an Oklahoma State team that is a sleeper pick for the Big 12 title. TCU appears to be poised to make a run at the wide-open Big 12 crown themselves; can they walk into Stillwater and get a win in a place where the home team is 40-13 under coach Mike Gundy?
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.