Conference USA released its 2013 football schedule today. UNT will play its first season in the league this fall. Here is the slate:
Aug 31 — Idaho (1-11)
Sep 7 — at Ohio (9-4)
Sep 14 — Ball State (9-4)
Sep 21 — at Georgia (12-2)
Sep 28 — bye
Oct 5 — at Tulane (2-10)*
Oct 12 — Middle Tennessee (7-5)*
Oct 19 — at Louisiana Tech (9-3)*
Oct 26 — at Southern Miss. (0-12)*
Nov 2 — Rice (7-6)*
Nov 9 — UTEP (3-9)*
Nov 16 — bye
Nov 23 — UTSA (8-4)*
Nov 30 — at Tulsa (11-3)*
* Conference USA game
And now for some thoughts.
We already knew who UNT had at home and who UNT had on the road. We knew how the nonconference schedule looks.
What’s new today is the order of UNT’s games.
There is a lot to like.
UNT does not have its tough conference games stacked back to back and got a huge break with getting Tulane on the road for its first league game after a bye. There are several games UNT should have a shot at in C-USA. The game at Tulane, which is coming off a 2-10 season is one of them.
UNT has back-to-back tough games at home against Middle Tennessee and on the road against Louisiana Tech after that. UNT will be underdogs in both those games, but doesn’t have back-to-back games against teams coming off winning seasons after that until the end of the year when it faces UTSA and Tulsa. And while UTSA did finish 8-4 last year that was in a transitional season while it moved up to the FBS level. It’s not a game I would count as one that would rank among the toughest on UNT’s schedule.
As far as key games go, that game at Tulane looms very large.
The hope is that UNT somehow finds a way to split its first four games by winning its season opener at home against Idaho and then pulling what would likely be seen as an upset by beating Ball State or Ohio before the check-passing body bag game at Georgia. In an ideal world, UNT would go 3-1, but UNT has been far from an ideal world in football for a long time.
Realistically, UNT could well be sitting there at 1-3 heading to New Orleans. If UNT can’t win at Tulane, it would be looking at 1-4 with games against Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech coming up. That would amount to being behind the eight-ball for the Mean Green.
The other key stretch begins with a game at Southern Miss on Oct. 26. Southern Miss went 0-12 last year. UNT will then host Rice and UTEP, have a bye and then play UTSA. UNT is going to talk a whole lot about ending that eight-year bowl drought heading into this season. If UNT is going to reach that goal, it’s likely going to have to make some serious hay during that stretch. Beating Rice will be tough to do. Those games against Southern Miss and UTEP are games UNT is going to need to win to get to six victories.
We might as well dub the UTSA game the “UNT Fan Suicide Watch Game.” If UNT fails to win that one, I would hide all sharp objects.
All and all, the schedule sets up pretty well. Now we just have to wait and see how UNT handles it.