If there was ever a time for a Group of Five team to crash the College Football Playoff -- not the New Year's Six, but the actual semifinals -- this may be the year.
Fresh off a 13-1 season in which it won the American Athletic Conference title and outlasted Florida State in the Peach Bowl, Houston plays a schedule made for party-crashing, with an opener against preseason Top 5 opponent Oklahoma at NRG Stadium and a home date against preseason Top 20 foe Louisville in late November, plus a visit to perennial East Division favorite Cincinnati, all while playing in the fastest-rising division in college football.
The American once again leads the way in scheduling Power 5 opponents, including a Week 3 slate that sees the entire East Division punching up a weight class:
Sept. 3: Oklahoma (vs. Houston, at NRG Stadium), Wake Forest (vs. Tulane)
Sept. 10: Baylor (vs. SMU), Ohio State (vs. Tulsa), Michigan (vs. Central Florida), Purdue (vs. Cincinnati), N.C. State (at East Carolina)
Sept. 17: Maryland (at Central Florida), Virginia (at Connecticut), South Carolina (vs. East Carolina), Syracuse (vs. South Florida), Penn State (vs. Temple), Kansas (at Memphis)
Sept. 24: TCU (at SMU, Friday night), Syracuse (at Connecticut), Virginia Tech (vs. East Carolina), Florida State (at South Florida)
Nov. 19: Louisville (at Houston)
Here's a look at the entire league schedule:
The second annual American Championship will take place Dec. 3 on a to-be-determined campus site.