AAC Football: Houston Cougars at Arizona Wildcats Preview

The season is starting a week later than planned for the Houston Cougars due to Hurricane Harvey, but that doesn't mean Arizona thinks the game will be any easier for the Wildcats. The adrenaline will be flowing in Tucson for the primetime showdown on national television.

For Arizona, it will be an opportunity to face off against a high quality opponent with a national presence. For the Cougars, a team that went 9-4 last year with wins over Oklahoma and Louisville, it's a chance to keep showing the nation how good Houston really is and how close we are to actually having six power conferences.

"We'll get their best effort," said Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez, "there's no question about that. I think they'll be inspired to play for themselves and their families, and to finally play a game. I'm sure they're tired of practicing...We have a lot of question marks about what they are going to do with a new staff, so it's going to be a big week to get ready.

The new staff that Coach Rodriquez is speaking about is led by Major Applewhite who was named the 14th head coach in Houston history on Dec. 9, 2016, after serving as the program's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two seasons.

Houston enters the season opener at Arizona tied with TCU as the top team in the state of Texas since the start of the 2014 season with 30 wins in that span. Baylor's 28 wins are third and Texas A&M is fourth with 24 wins. Texas Tech is fifth with 17 wins.

Let's take a look at the teams:

Houston Cougars | HC Major Applewhite | Year 1 at UH
Houston looks to continue its best run in program history as the Cougars play their first full season under head coach Major Applewhite ... Houston has won 22 games in the last two years, trailing only Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State nationally ... Houston has lost its last three true road games, but has a 15-game winning streak at TDECU Stadium — the longest active homefield winning streak in FBS ... The key player for Houston is DT Ed Oliver, who was tabbed by Sports Illustrated as the nation's top defensive player following a freshman season in which he was an Associated Press and Sporting News first team All-America choice ... Oliver registered 23.0 tackles for loss as a true freshman in 2016 ... Applewhite will announce his starting quarterback later in the week ... Four starters return on the offensive line.

Arizona Wildcats | HC Rich Rodriguez | Year 6 at Zona
Arizona rolled past Northern Arizona 62-24 in its season-opener as the Wildcats look to bounce back from a 3-9 season ... Arizona's best season under sixth-year head coach Rich Rodriguez was in 2014, when the Wildcats went 10-4, reached the Pac-12 championship game and played in the Fiesta Bowl ... The Wildcats rushed for 506 yards in the season-opener against NAU ...Arizona had 595 yards of offense and averaged 9.8 yards per play ... Six Wildcat players rushed for at least 50 yards, including QB Brandon Dawkins, who had 92 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries ... Dawkins also completed 7 of 13 passes for 89 yards and a TD ... Nearly 70 percent of Arizona's roster consists of freshmen or sophomores ... The Wildcats have 61 freshmen (true or redshirt).