Ranking every Texas FBS nonconference game: 38-11

Craig Bisacre/Texas A&M Athletics

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The 2021 season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to start looking ahead. There are 38 nonconference games featuring Texas FBS teams in 2021 – we're ready to rank them all. 

Many of the nation's best programs did not play nonconference games in 2020, including the SEC. The Big 12 only featured one nonconference game each. Finally in 2020, we'll be back to seeing the best in Texas playing each other. And with any luck, the reality of COVID-19 cancellations can stay in the rearview mirror (R.I.P. Baylor vs. Houston). 

We'll release our top 10 nonconference games in the coming days, but we are starting out with the initial group of games from 11-38. There's high variance among these games, with a few being potential blockbusters while others will be tuneup games. Part of the ranking is built around watchability and potential stakes. But since this is our list, we also will add plenty of subjectivity to it too. 

Here is how we rank every Texas FBS nonconference game in 2021. 


# Matchup Date
38 Houston at UConn Nov. 27
37 North Texas vs. Northwestern State Sept. 4
36 TCU vs. Duquense Sept. 4
35 UTEP vs. Bethune Cookman Sept. 4
34 Houston vs. Grambling State Sept. 18
33 Rice vs. Texas Southern  Sept. 25
32 Baylor vs. Texas Southern Sept. 11
31 SMU vs. Abilene Christian Sept. 4

A number of FBS vs. FCS matchups rank near the bottom of the list, as expected. If you play an FCS opponent at they're not from the state of Texas, you immediately go to the bottom of the list – it's my list and I'm playing by my rules. But for some reason, Houston playing against UConn to close the season ranks as perhaps my least favorite game of the year. If the Huskies are interesed in becoming a real FBS program one of these days, that would be nice, but otherwise it effectively feels like the Coogs playing two FCS games. 


# Matchup Date
30 UTSA vs. Lamar Sept. 11
29 Texas State vs. UIW Sept. 18
28 Texas Tech vs. Stephen F. Austin Sept. 11
27 Texas A&M vs. Prairie View A&M Nov. 20
26 Texas A&M vs. New Mexico Sept. 18
25 Texas State at Florida International Sept. 11
24 Rice at Arkansas Sept. 4
23 Texas Tech vs. Florida International Sept. 18
22 UTEP at Boise State Sept. 10 
21 Texas State at Eastern Michigan Sept. 25

Texas State facing off against UIW's Walter Payton Award-winning quarterback Cameron Ward is the one FBS/FCS game with a little spice, but otherwise we move on to the lower tier of FBS games. Several of these matchups feature overmatched competition, like Texas A&M hosting New Mexico or Rice traveling to Fayetteville. I'm hoping Texas State's trip to FIU ends up being a snooze. However, the Bobcats' trip to Ypsilanti on Sept. 25 will be a little spicier. If UTEP can show anything against Boise State, that's a huge win. 


# Matchup Date
20 SMU vs. North Texas Sept. 11
19 Texas vs. Rice Sept. 18
18 SMU at Louisiana Tech Sept. 18
17 UTSA vs. UNLV Oct. 2
16 Houston vs. Rice Sept. 11
15 Texas A&M vs. Kent State Sept. 4
14 UTEP vs. New Mexico Sept. 25
13 North Texas vs. Liberty Oct. 23
12 Baylor vs. Texas State Sept. 4
11 UTSA at Memphis Sept. 25

The final group before the top 10 features a handful of games that can change everything. SMU faces off with C-USA foes UNT and Louisiana Tech in two important tune-up games. Kent State won't compete with Texas A&M, but QB Dustin Crum and head coach Sean Lewis are names to know. Once you get to No. 14, the quality of games increases dramatically. UTEP needs to win its matchup with Mountain West foe New Mexico. North Texas/Liberty and UTSA/Memphis present big opportunities for their respective programs. Texas State won't beat Baylor, but we're going to learn a whole lot about both teams in San Marcos – and by the way, it represents an ROF bowl between my alma mater and Ishmael Johnson's. 

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