Last week, the Houston Roughnecks revealed their schedule for the 2023 XFL season. The Roughnecks will play in the South division, which also includes the Arlington Renegades, Orlando Guardians, and San Antonio Brahmas. All home games will take place at TDECU stadium, shared with the University of Houston Cougars.
Houston will be getting off to a hot start, with three straight home games between February 18th and March 5th. The season opener against the Orlando Guardians will take place on a Saturday, while the next two games (Renegades and Brahmas) will be played on back-to-back Sundays. The first three opponents are all division rivals, and with the team only leaving Houston to practice during this stretch, it gives the Roughnecks a nice advantage and more time to get comfortable than other teams in the league.
Following the three home games to start the season, Houston will hit the road and take on the Guardians again at Camping World Stadium. This means the Roughnecks-Guardians series will be over after week four, and could start to paint an early picture of how the division may pan out as a whole. Finally, in week five, the Roughnecks will play their first non-divisional game against the Seattle Sea Dragons at Lumen Field (Thursday, March 16th). This could perhaps be the most intriguing matchup of the season from a schematic perspective, as Roughnecks offensive coordinator A.J. Smith worked under Sea Dragons offensive coordinator June Jones during XFL 2.0.
The Roughnecks will get a nice break after their game against the Sea Dragons, with an almost two-week span between their week five and week six matchups. The week six matchup is another road tilt against the DC Defenders at Audi Field (Monday, March 27th). Interestingly, this will be the last game the Roughnecks play outside of Texas, given both the divisional alignment and the number of teams in the state.
Next up on the schedule is the St. Louis BattleHawks (Saturday, April 1st). Despite playing on a short week, the Roughnecks get to return to TDECU Stadium after a total of 27 days and three straight road games. This will be the first time the Roughnecks get an afternoon slot, with kickoff currently scheduled at 2:00pm CST. The team will also play in the same time slot during week eight as well, taking on the San Antonio Brahmas at the Alamodome (Sunday, April 9th) for the second of two divisional matchups.
Week nine will be an early start in Houston, with kickoff against the Vegas Vipers (Saturday, April 15th) scheduled for 11:30am CST at TDECU. This will be the last home game of the regular season, as the team travels to Arlington for the finale against the Renegades (Sunday, April 23rd) in week ten.
In terms of overall layout, the Roughnecks’ season can already be described as a tale of two halves. For the first five weeks of the season, all games will be played at or after 6:00pm CST, with four of the five games being divisional matchups. From weeks six to ten, only one of the five games will be played at or after 6:00PM CST, and three of the five games are non-divisional matchups. The slate also becomes more evenly divided between home and away games during the second half of the season.
The final part about the schedule worth discussing is the broadcasting aspect, which sees Roughnecks games being aired on a variety of cable television channels. The season opener certainly stands out and will likely get the best viewership, being aired on both FX and the main ESPN station simultaneously (this is also a night game). The only other Roughnecks game that will be aired on ESPN is the season finale versus the Arlington Renegades. Between weeks two and nine, it’s a near even split in terms of channels, with both ESPN2 and FX getting three games each and ABC getting another two.
All in all, the Roughnecks have been set up pretty nicely. Like any schedule in any league, it’s not perfect, but it certainly looks better than what some other teams have been given. With only a little over a month away until the first kickoff, there’s no better time than now to get excited about Houston Roughnecks football.
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