American Athletic Conference teams will match up with some of the best football squads in the nation this fall in nonconference battles.
AAC teams will play the three top preseason picks in the Big 12 – TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma.
TU will travel to Oklahoma to take on the Sooners – a team with a lot to prove after losing five games last year, including three games at home. TU has a new coach, Phillip Montgomery, who helped carve up the Sooners in Norman last season while he was offensive coordinator at Baylor.
TU, Houston and SMU have new head coaches who were high-powered coordinators at highly ranked schools.
Look for some upsets.
Here’s a rundown of the top nonconference games.
Baylor at SMU
Baylor was within a hair of making the four-team national championship last season. The Bears are picked to finish second in the Big 12 behind TCU. Baylor was the only team to beat the Horned Frogs last season.
SMU has a new coach – Chad Morris, who came to Dallas after four years as offensive coordinator for Clemson. Baylor got the best of SMU, 45-0, last year in Waco but the Ponies look to be improved.
Penn State at Temple
Penn State is picked to finish in the top half of the Big 10 Conference. Temple went 6-6 last season, including a lopsided 13-30 loss at Penn State. Temple Coach Matt Rhule is a former assistant with the New York Giants (offensive line) and also coached at UCLA.
South Florida at Florida State
This looks like a mismatch on paper but FSU has to break in a new quarterback.
Houston at Louisville
The Cougars were 8-5 last season. They have a new head coach, Tom Herman. Herman comes from Ohio State, where he was offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for a Buckeye team that played in the national championship foursome. He is familiar with Houston, having coached at Sam Houston State University and Texas University.
Tulane at Georgia Tech
Geogia Tech has one of the best rushing attacks in the country and could win the ACC.
East Carolina at Florida
Florida has fallen on hard times and has a new coach. The Gators are picked to finish fifth in the SEC East. East Carolina went 8-5 last season but lost its offensive coordinator, Lincoln Riley, to Oklahoma.
Central Florida at Stanford
Stanford is one of the best team in the Pac 12 Conference and has an outside chance at the national playoff.
Tulsa at Oklahoma
Even though OU faded into an 8-5 record, the Sooners are picked to come in third in the Big 12 behind Baylor and TCU. Montgomery’s Baylor offense beat OU soundly last year.
SMU at TCU
TCU is picked to win the powerful Big 12 Conference and could have the top quarterback in the nation. SMU fell to TCU 56-0 at home last season. This will be a tough game for SMU but who knows what could happen when two inter-city rivals in Texas match up?
Central Florida at South Carolina
The Gamecocks are picked to finish fourth in the SEC East.
Virginia Tech at East Carolina
East Carolina topped Virginia Tech 28-21 last season at home.
Miami at Cincinnati
Cincinnati plays Miami of Ohio and Miami of Florida. Miami beat the Bearcats in Florida 55-34 last season.
UConn at BYU
This is the first of three BYU games against American Athletic Conference opponents. BYU, an independent, also plays Nebraska, Boise State, UCLA, Michigan and Missouri in what must be one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
Connecticut could catch the Cougars with a “Michigan hangover” and pull the upset. BYU blasted UConn 35-10 last year in East Hartford.
East Carolina at BYU
East Carolina gets BYU in Provo between Connecticut and Cincinnati. BYU, coached by Bronco Mendenhall, is tough to beat in Provo.
Syracuse at South Florida
South Florida had its offensive struggles but figures to be improved this seasons.
Louisiana-Monroe at Tulsa
Louisiana-Monroe opens at Georgia and then travels to Alabama before hosting Georgia Southern. The trip to Tulsa will be against either the third or fourth best team in their first four games. After TU, the Warhawks play Appalachian State, Idaho, Louisiana LaFayette and Troy.
Cincinnati at BYU
Cincinnati travels to Provo – always a tough place to play.
Mississippi at Memphis
Ole Miss was close to winning the SEC last year and this year is picked fifth in the rugged SEC West.
Vanderbilt at Houston
Vanderbilt was chosen to come in 7th in the SEC East but any team that competes in the Southeastern Conference presents a challenge. New Houston Coach Tom Herman was offensive coordinator for an Ohio State offense that was fifth in the nation in scoring last year, averaging 44.8 points per game.
Notre Dame at Temple
Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish could be a Top 10 pick this year. Notre Dame always brings excitement to a college game.