The Houston Cougars are finally going to get to play a football game.
They think. They hope.
The host Cougars are scheduled to play their first game of the season against American Athletic Conference rival Tulane on Thursday night.
But they have been left at the altar five times already.
Games against Washington State, Rice, Baylor and North Texas have been canceled for a variety of COVID-related issues. Another game against Memphis has been rescheduled for Dec. 5.
"One thing we all know about 2020," Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said, "is you better get ready for things to change."
The game against Washington State was canceled in July and the one against Rice was canceled in August. The others were called off much closer to game day, including the hurriedly scheduled makeup game against Baylor that was nixed just 22 hours before it was supposed to kick off on Sept. 19.
"We're used to this," Holgorsen said. "It's OK to be disappointed, it's OK to be upset, but you can't hang on to it. We're ready to go."
All of the lost opportunities have been because of issues related to the Cougars' opponents -- not them.
"We're healthy, we're in a good place," Holgorsen said. "We're prepared, we're eager, we're motivated."
If somehow everything from here on out goes according to plan, Houston, which reported for preseason practice in mid-August, will play nine games in nine weeks.
"Can we just play one game man," wide receiver Keith Corbin tweeted. "Does anybody wanna play the houston cougars?"
Tulane (2-1, 0-1 AAC) does. The Green Wave, who have played three games despite seeing their opener canceled, had an open date last week and has already changed starting quarterbacks.
"It's very unusual," Tulane coach Willie Fritz said of the disparity in games played. "They've had some tough luck with different schools not being able to field a team, so I feel for them. I know that's difficult."
The Green Wave won last year's meeting 38-31 on a 53-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left. That wound up being the last game as a Cougar for star quarterback D'Eriq King.
The loss dropped Houston to 1-3 and King chose to transfer. He's now the starting quarterback for No. 7 Miami (FL).
Fritz benched his starting quarterback, Keon Howard, early in Tulane's last game -- at Southern Miss on Sept. 26. Freshman Michael Pratt entered the game late in the first quarter and the Green Wave rolled to a 66-24 victory.
Pratt, who completed 9 of 19 passes for 142 yards with two touchdowns, will make his first start against the Cougars.
"We're going to run our offense," Fritz said. "There are going to be different wrinkles, but it's not going to be totally different in any way, shape or form."
The Green Wave lost their leading rusher, Tyjae Spears, for the season after he suffered a torn ACL against Southern Miss, but running back is one of the deepest positions on the team.
Cameron Carroll has seven rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown in three games.
--Field Level Media