Houston was nationally ranked in the AP Poll for the pre-season with the #7 spot. It was the first time that Houston had received votes in the pre-season for that poll since the 1953 season, and was the highest pre-season ranking for the team ever. Outside of the 1967 season, it was the highest that Houston had ever been ranked in the poll.
Houston opened the 1969 season ranked as #7 in the Pre-season AP Poll. For its first game, the team traveled to Gainesville, Florida to compete against Florida of the Southeastern Conference at Florida Field. Led by tenth-year head coach Ray Graves, Florida had not lost a season opener for the past three years, while Houston had not lost a season opener for the past four years. It was the first time in history that the two teams had met. The victory by the Gators was considered a major upset, as the #7-ranked Houston quickly fell to an unranked position following the game, while Florida rose to #12 in the AP Poll. Following the game, Florida eventually went on to earn a 9–1–1 overall record, and after the defeat of Tennessee in the Gator Bowl, a #14 national ranking the poll to finish the season.