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Houston Cougars kick off 2014 season in new stadium versus UTSA

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The Houston Cougars kick off the college football season with a new stadium, a new attitude and hopes of a bowl game to cap off their 2014 season.

The Cougars, who return 17 starters from 2013, will be looking to improve on a 8-5 record and a 41-24 loss to Vanderbilt in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Their 5-3 record in the American Athletic Conference in 2014 placed them fourth in the conference behind No. 10 UCF (8-0, 12-1 overall), No. 15 Louisville (7-1, 12-1 overall) and Cincinnati (6-2, 9-4 overall).

Houston is picked to finish third place in the conference in the preseason poll released at the American Athletic Conference Media Day in Newport, Rhode Island on July 29, 2014.

Cincinnati was picked first with 311 points (17 first place votes) , followed by UCF with 296 points (seven first place vote) and Houston with 268 points (six first place votes).

With the Cougars scheduled to open the 2014 season in their new TDECU Stadium, head coach Tony Levine has more than a few reasons to be optimistic.

Houston's defense lead the nation with 43 turnover gains in 2013 and welcome back two players who will continue to have an impact on the field in 2014.

Junior safety Trevon Stewart, who was named to the AAC second team in 2013 tallied four interception and forced 43 turnovers during his sophomore season.

The Patterson, Louisiana native has been named to the 2014 Jim Thorpe Watch List, CFPA Defensive Back Trophy Watch List in addition to the first team by Dave Campbell's Preseason All Texas List, Phil Steele's Preseason ACC List, and Athlon Sports Preseason List.

Sophomore quarterback John O'Korn, who threw for 3,117 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2013, will be back to lead the offense in 2014.

O'Korn, who hails from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and was the 2013 AAC Rookie of the Year, has been tabs to the Davey O'Brien Watch List for 2014, in addition to the Maxwell Award and CFPA Quarterback Trophy Watch Lists.

Houston kicks off its 2014 schedule on August 28 with an 8 p.m. CDT kickoff against the University of Texas-San Antonio at TDECU Stadium.

The game will be televised on ESPNU and on the radio at KPRC 950 AM.

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