As Florida Atlantic’s football program wraps up its last season in Conference USA, the Owls’ next home, the American Athletic Conference, has announced a scheduling model for the 2023-2026 seasons.
A change was inevitable as it’ll be the first season the conference will have 14 teams.
In the model that was unanimously approved by the AAC athletic directors this week, each team is required to have eight conference games per year. Also, each team will face the other 13 programs at least twice during the four-year cycle – once at home and once on the road.
The AAC announced that six matchups will be played annually as part of this cycle, one of them being FAU taking on the University of South Florida. The other five games will be North Texas-SMU, UAB-Memphis, Rice-UTSA, Charlotte-East Carolina, and Navy-Temple.
“This scheduling model fulfills all of the objectives that we identified as we look forward to competition among our 14 outstanding teams,” AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said. “It re-establishes some long standing geographic rivalries and provides a foundation for new rivalries to develop. It also provides all of our teams with annual access to the state of Texas and other important recruiting areas.”
During this cycle from the 2023 through the 2026 seasons, there won’t be a divisional format; instead the two best teams will qualify for the AAC championship game.
Besides FAU, the other former members of Conference USA and new members of the AAC are Alabama-Birmingham, Charlotte, North Texas, Rice and UT-San Antonio. The six teams will more than fill the void of the departures of Cincinnati, Houston and UCF going to the Big 12.
The move to the AAC was a huge announcement for FAU as it provides a chance to grow in the eyes of the country. The three teams leaving for the Big 12 had the opportunity to develop their athletic program and each make strides in every aspect.
ESPN, AAC adding games going forward
With the move comes an ESPN agreement the AAC signed in 2019 which was a 12-year deal where “with the new agreement, The American will have a stronger and more extensive presence on ESPN’s primary TV networks – ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU.”
FAU would be playing on ESPN+, Stadium, and sometimes on Facebook in Conference USA. Saying the new deal is a massive upgrade is an understatement.
Before looking ahead to 2023, FAU is in the midst of vying for a push into bowl eligibility with three games left. It starts Saturday as the Owls look for their first road win of the season in the Shula Bowl against FIU.
Besides the announcement that FAU will face USF annually, the other conference opponents and respective seasons have been released:
2023 Conference Opponents
Home: Tulsa, UTSA, Tulane, East Carolina
Away: Rice, UAB, South Florida, Charlotte
2024 Conference Opponents
Home: North Texas, Rice, South Florida, Charlotte
Away: Tulsa, SMU, East Carolina, Navy
2025 Conference Opponents
Home: SMU, UAB, East Carolina, Temple
Away: North Texas, Tulane, Memphis, South Florida
2026 Conference Opponents
Home: Tulsa, Memphis, South Florida, Navy
Away: UTSA, UAB, Charlotte, Temple
FAU (4-5, 3-2) at FIU (4-4, 2-2)