Assuming non-conference games go off this fall, few teams can top the combination of contests awaiting the Oklahoma Sooners. Besides a body bag game versus the Missouri State Bears, OU gets a visit from a surging SEC foe and travels to one of college football's most unique settings to take on an option-wielding service academy. On top of that, OU head coach Lincoln Riley will need to prepare his team for one of the strongest Big 12 slates in recent memory.
Here's a ranking of the difficulty of games on OU's 2020 schedule, working from easiest to hardest.
12. Sept. 5 vs. Missouri State
The Bobby Petrino era begins in Springfield with a sacrificial offering to the Sooners. With the Bears coming off a 1-10 season in 2019, it's difficult to imagine a better way for OU to kick off the year. Riley will get an opportunity to see what he's working with this season in a low-stakes setting.
11. Nov. 21 vs. Kansas
KU remains the low team on the Big 12 totem pole, and they're visiting Norman late in the season. That sounds like a blowout in the making. The Jayhawks would do well to keep the final score within the 25-point margin of last year's defeat at the hands of the Sooners.
10. Oct. 3 vs. Baylor
Baylor and OU staged two thrillers in '19, so why does this matchup rank so low on this list? For starters, they're playing in Norman this time around. More importantly, a slew of important players from last season are gone for the Bears, along with top-notch head coach Matt Rhule. BU seems poised to struggle this year under new coach Dave Aranda, who has had no true offseason to implement his changes to the program. Facing OU early in the season does the Bears no favors.
9. Nov. 7 at West Virginia
Another long season appears to be in store for the Mountaineers as head coach Neal Brown tries to reinvigorate the WVU program. The 'Eers tend to play the Sooners tough in Morgantown, though. In the second game of back-to-back road trips for OU, WVU may have a chance to catch the visitors slipping in a flat spot. If not, the Sooners should roll here.
8. Nov. 28 at Texas Tech
OU caps the 2020 season with a trip to Lubbock, another site where the Sooners have survived some close scrapes in the past. The Red Raiders have promising quarterback Alan Bowman back in the fold this year. If he can stay healthy all season — a major challenge in the past — Tech's shot at an upset increases significantly.
7. Nov. 14 vs. Kansas State
The Wildcats sprung a surprise on the Sooners in Manhattan last year, capitalizing on turnovers and a thundering ground game to pull out a 48-41 victory. Seasoned QB Skylar Thompson and key returnees on defense know the formula for beating OU, but doing it in Norman against a revenge-minded squad won't be easy.
6. Sept. 26 at Army
The Black Knights took OU to overtime in 2018 before finally succumbing in a 28-21 thriller. Can the Sooners handle Army's triple-option ground attack better this time around? They'll have to travel to West Point to find out.
5. Oct. 31 at TCU
"Halloween in Fort Worth." Will it be a horror flick or a Hallmark movie for Oklahoma? TCU has shown a tendency to put a scare into OU in the past. Although the Horned Frogs last beat the Sooners in 2014, three of the last six meetings between the two teams were decided by six points or fewer. OU can't play uninspired football a week after taking on in-state rival Oklahoma State and expect to win here.
4. Sept. 12 vs. Tennessee
The Volunteers have stumbled around for more than a decade now. Hopes are running high that head coach Jeremy Pruitt has them headed in the right direction after a strong finish to the 2019 campaign, and the game in week two at OU will offer a solid measuring stick for a squad hoping to compete in the SEC East. The Sooners will have their hands full against an experienced and motivated team.
3. Oct. 24 vs. Oklahoma State
With both the Sooners and Cowboys expected to compete for the Big 12 title, Bedlam should have more than usual on the line in 2020. OSU's loaded offense may provide the stiffest test the OU defense faces this year. The fact that the teams are playing in Norman is the only reason this matchup doesn't top the list.
2. Oct. 17 at Iowa State
Another of the teams that has a tendency to play the Sooners tight, Iowa State was a failed two-point conversion away from beating OU in '19. The Cyclones will have gunslinging QB Brock Purdy back this year and standouts such as safety Greg Eisworth and linebacker Mike Rose holding down the fort on the other side of the ball. Traveling to Ames a week after the Red River game ups the degree of difficulty for the Sooners in this case. However, if last year's scare doesn't have the Sooners focused, Riley will have some explaining to do.
1. Oct. 10 vs. Texas (Dallas)
The Red River almost always tops this annual list. This is no exception. The Longhorns will want to send off QB Sam Ehlinger in style. They also know a season in which OU is reloading may be their best opportunity to break through in recent memory. UT won't hold anything back in Dallas in October.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.