Meanwhile, the Longhorns have one of those odd years where the home schedule is poor. As we documented earlier this year, the Big 12 needs to re-align simply to fix the conference’s rotation of home and away games.
But, Tom Herman’s Texas squad travels to USC to play a major road game. The Cougars are a notch below with a road trip to a different Pac-12 school, Arizona.
The Horns and Cougs do have a common opponent in 2017 – the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Tech visits Houston on September 23 and travels to Austin during Thanksgiving Weekend on November 25.
The difference in conference opponents should lean heavily toward Texas because of their Power 5 standing in the Big 12. But, the American is not far off with some good teams and new coaches. This includes former Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong coaching USF.
So, let’s break down and compare these two schedules in 2017 to see which of Tom Herman’s schools has the more intriguing set of games.
Texas Longhorns vs. Houston Cougars Non-Conference Schedule
Texas Non-Conference 9/2 – Home vs. Maryland 9/9 – Home vs. San Jose St. 9/16 – Away at USC
Houston Non-Conference 9/2 – Away at UTSA 9/9 – Away at Arizona 9/16 – Home vs. Rice 9/23 – Home vs. Texas Tech
Texas’s home opener against Maryland became more intriguing on National Signing Day. The Terrapins, who are now in the Big 10 conference, outranked the Longhorns in the 2017 recruiting rankings. This added some pizzazz to what otherwise seemed like a safe way to start the season. Plus, the road game against USC will call-back to the epic 2006 BCS National Title Game.
Meanwhile, the Cougars get to play in the Alamodome to start their season. Then, they also play a Pac-12 school on the road before starting the home schedule against cross-town rival Rice and a Big 12 opponent, Texas Tech.
Winner: Texas by a slim margin because of the USC game. Houston has a very impressive non-conference schedule, but if Texas and USC both start the season 2-0, that will be the marquee college football matchup of Week 3.
Texas Longhorns vs. Houston Cougars Conference Home Schedule
Texas Conference Home Games 10/7 – vs. Kansas State 10/14 – Neutral vs. OU 10/21 – vs. Ok. State 11/11 – vs. Kansas 11/25 – vs. Texas Tech
Houston Conference Home Games 10/7 – vs. SMU 10/19 – vs. Memphis 10/28 – vs. East Carolina 11/24 – vs. Navy
Odd years have not been kind to Texas since the Big 12 realigned in 2012. The home conference schedule includes both Kansas schools, common opponent Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State. Tech is the only school from the state of Texas to visit Austin in 2017, and you never know how Kliff Kingsbury’s team is going to fare from year to year.
Meanwhile, the Cougars play in-state rival SMU, Memphis in a marquee ESPN matchup, the high-flying Pirates from ECU, and Navy in a rematch from two years ago when the Cougars sealed the AAC West Division.
For the sake of this argument, we’ll put Texas’ neutral-site game against Oklahoma in the same class as UH playing a conference title game after the regular season. That might be a stretch because Texas-OU is the biggest game of the Big 12 year, but if Houston has a stellar year under former Longhorn Major Applewhite, then a conference title game could get the Cougars in a New Year’s Six Bowl. The result?
Winner: Houston by a slim margin. Perhaps Longhorns fans are a little tired of seeing the Kansas schools after what happened in 2016, but there is not much intrigue to the home conference schedule unless Texas plays excellent football. Meanwhile, the Cougars can get revenge on SMU for ending their New Year’s Six dreams last year. And, Memphis, ECU, and Navy are exciting matchups.
Texas Longhorns vs. Houston Cougars Conference Away Schedule
Texas Conference Away Games 9/30 – At Iowa State 10/28 – At Baylor 11/4 – At TCU 11/18 – At West Virginia
Houston Conference Away Games 9/30 – At Temple 10/14 – At Tulsa 11/4 – At USF 11/18 – At Tulane
This is really close. Tom Herman opens his Big 12 era with a Thursday night game against Iowa State. Then, Texas plays three of its best opponents on the road – Baylor, TCU, and W. Virginia.
Meanwhile, Houston gets to play Charlie Strong’s USF team near the end of the season. They also visit defending AAC champions Temple, whose coach left for Baylor in the off-season. The Cougars and Tulsa typically play a good game, leaving Tulane to wash out Texas’ game at Iowa State.
Texas vs. Houston Verdict
The Longhorns have a slightly better schedule with games against USC and Oklahoma, plus road matchups against compelling teams TCU, Baylor, and West Virginia.
But, Houston is right there with a solid non-conference schedule and intriguing home and away games. The Cougars just do not have that marquee game on the schedule like Oklahoma and Louisville in 2016. If Texas Tech were more consistent in recent years, then their game would be in the same class as the Sooners and Cardinals.
Winner: Texas because of the big games happening away from Austin. It’s time for the Big 12 to fix Texas’ odd-year schedule, while Houston should be commended for a very compelling schedule in 2017.