Path To The Playoff: UCF, Houston, Cincinnati, Memphis, USF

Path To The Playoff: UCF, Houston, Cincinnati, Memphis, USF

American Athletic

Path To The Playoff: UCF, Houston, Cincinnati, Memphis, USF

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2. Houston Cougars

Step 1: Make the statement right out of the gate in the Dana Holgorsen era. In 2016, the Cougars kicked things off with a dramatically dominant 33-23 win over Oklahoma. But that was in Houston. Win this time around in Norman, and there’s your big massive splash to get everyone talking. However …

Step 2: The Cougars have to do it all again a few weeks later when a dangerous Washington State team comes to town. The Pac-12 Cougars aren’t as good as the Sooners, but they’re still strong enough to be a conference title contender. Houston can’t beat OU and lose to Wazzu. The big problem before both of those games is …

Step 3: The Houston pass defense has to be better than it was last year. Oh goodie … the team gets to fix the porous pass D by playing Oklahoma and Washington State. One of the nation’s worst all-around defenses gave up 276 passing yards per game, and later …

Step 4: Watch out for the trip to North Texas. If the Cougars really can survive Oklahoma and Washington State, they can’t let down against a Mean Green team that could hang up 500 passing yards. But let’s say that all happens and UH really is 8-0 …

Step 5: Beat UCF – likely – twice, survive Memphis, and don’t whiff against the Navy option attack. There will be landmines aplenty over the second half of the season, and then comes the AAC Championship. The Cougars have to be perfect to do this, but they’re going to be more like the type of team that screws up everyone else than one that can be perfect from pillar to post.

NEXT: UCF

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