In an earlier than normal manner, Conference USA has released its 2017 league slate. We obviously have a few thoughts. While we're at it, welcome back UAB! The Dragons are back on the schedule ending one of the more bizarre three years any college football program has ever experienced. Let's take a look at the Texas memberships' brand new league schedule.
North Texas gets first crack at UAB in their league opener on September 23rd in Denton. Then it's a road trip to Hattiesburg before the renewal of the rivalry of the new millennium against UTSA at Apogee. The Mean Green get UTEP and Army at home back to back. The only back to back home dates on the Mean Green schedule. CUSA needs to develop rivalries and not with fake trophies, but with the establishing of traditional match ups at traditional times. Each school should end their season with a rivalry game if possible. For North Texas there are really two choices for that date, UTSA and Rice, here the conference set up Rice. Maybe that game turns into something, but if the conference is going to schedule that game at the end of the season then KEEP IT THERE. In the always important home game tabulator, North Texas get six at Apogee.
North Texas' bye week is October 7 leading into UTSA. More on that later.
Rice is maybe, kind of, almost going to open 2017 vs. Stanford in Australia on September 2nd. It's a quick turnaround for the Owls as they head back home, then TRAVEL to UTEP. As currently constructed that's a brutal two weeks of travel. We had assumed that the Owls might take a bye week after flying around the globe to play a PAC 12 opponent. Nope. Welcome to jet lag Owls. Then Rice plays Houston at TDECU. 0 and 3 and exhausted is no way to start the season. From there it's a home/road split the remainder of the season, home one week, on the road the next. As constructed the Owls only have five home dates. That's not ideal.
The Owls by week comes on 10/14 prior to traveling to UTSA.
UTEP, like Rice, has five home games at the Sun Bowl. They sandwich Rice between a road trip to Oklahoma and a home date with Arizona. After back to back non-conference games on the road at New Mexico State and Army, UTEP returns home for Western Kentucky. UTEP ends their season with three of four on the road including a final date at UAB. That last weekend is once again a chance to develop traction on the rivalry front. The conference could have put two UT system schools up against each other and further develop the new Battle of I-10. The Miners' bye weeks comes before UTSA.
Let us save the league some time and give you your ideal schedule for that November 25th weekend:
If UTSA has a chance to complain it's that they play each of their in-state conference opponents with those teams coming off a bye. So UTEP, North Texas, and Rice will have a week to heal up and prepare for the Runners. They get a three of four stretch on the road, at North Texas, home to Rice, at UTEP, and at Butch Davis' FIU from mid-October to early November. They they get two home dates back to back with UAB and Marshall. If I'm UTSA, I'm also wondering why the conference selected the Runners to play back to back in Ruston. I assume the league is looking ahead and seeing that as a potential game to decide CUSA West.
UTSA gets the six home dates.