The Houston Cougars are going to a bowl game this season. Which bowl game is still in question, and that answer won’t come until Sunday afternoon. It won’t be one of the glamorous big boy bowl games played on New Year's. It may not even be one of the middle tier of bowl games. But it will be a bowl game.
Football coaches love bowl games, but the actual game is really secondary to coaches when it comes to the minor bowl games. The coaches appreciate all of the extra practice time they can subject the players to because practice is the best way to learn the ever-increasingly complex systems that coaches have implemented to prove to everybody just how smart they are. The bowl games are also kind of bonus for the seniors who get to play one last game before going off to either the pros or to the oblivion of real life.
Unlike the past two bowl games, this one will be a rather calm game for the Cougars, one for which they can just concentrate on practices and playing football. Two seasons ago, the first under Tom Herman, the Cougars were under the bright lights of the Peach Bowl in Georgia, one of the major bowl games. The Cougars upset Florida State and showed the world that the Cougars had to be taken seriously.
Last season was one of chaos. Tom Herman departed for Texas immediately after the season-ending Memphis game. Major Applewhite was appointed as the interim head coach and the team sent out to Las Vegas where it lost to San Diego State in a rather uninspired display of football.
The Cougars aren’t playing under any major lights this season. There’s no coaching change to worry about. There’s no controversy over who the quarterback is. The schemes are basically in place. The continued practices will help the players perfect what Applewhite and his assistants have been putting in place throughout the season. Thus, the only question is just where it is the Cougars will be playing football later this month.
Houston is currently linked to five possible bowl games. One such link to the Birmingham Bowl where the Cougars went to several seasons ago when it was known as the BBVA Compass Bowl where UH lost to Vanderbilt. It is thought that, if the Cougars make a return trip, the foe will be Central Michigan (8-4) in a game to be played on December 23.
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There is also some thought that the Cougars are bound for the Cure Bowl in Orlando on December 16. The Cougars are projected to play Georgia State (6-4) if this is the bowl game they end up in. And it’s also possible the Cougars head out to the Boca Raton Bowl on December 19 to face the rejuvenated FAU (9-3) led by new head coach Lane Kiffin, the man that some thought might get the UH job last year instead of Applewhite. FAU is a high-scoring machine, and it would be interesting to see UH combat this offense. But first UH has to be selected for this game, and then FAU needs to be upset by North Texas in the C-USA Title Game on Saturday.
Another option is the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. This game tends to be difficult for students and alumni to make, since airfare to Hawaii over Christmas is not cheap. Rice played here several seasons ago and had difficulties with getting back in time to spend to Christmas with family. If the Cougars do wind up here, the projected opponent is Boise State (9-3). It was announced on Thursday that the Cougars are adding a home-and-home series with Boise State in 2021 and 2024.
But most projections have the Cougars heading up to the Metroplex to play in the Frisco Bowl which was formerly known as the Miami Beach Bowl. That game is played on December 20 and will be played at Toyota Stadium, the 25,000 seat soccer stadium home of FC Dallas. As of now, it is projected the Cougars would play either 7-5 Marshall, 8-4 Northern Illinois, or 6-6 Utah.
Those are the thoughts. Those are the options. The Cougars will know for sure on Sunday.