Sooners close the upcoming season with a tough stretch in November, including a finale against Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma Sooners are currently enjoying a historic run of four consecutive Big 12 championships that have also led to three appearances in the College Football Playoff. They’re now looking to graduate transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts and a refurbished defense to help bring them a fifth conference title.
Getting back to the top of the conference will require navigating the customary Big 12 round-robin schedule and a potential appearance in the league title game. Before that, the Sooners will get a chance at revenge in their season opener and later take a road trip to Southern California.
OU is looking at a tough finishing kick of four games with a potential landmine in Waco and a visit to Stillwater over Thanksgiving weekend for the latest edition of Bedlam. There’s also that annual bloodbath at the Cotton Bowl in October.
If the Sooners are playing in college football’s final four over the holidays, they will have earned it.
Byes: Week 4, Week 10
Week 1 — Aug. 31 vs. Houston (Norman, Okla.)
It didn’t go so well for the Sooners the last time these two teams squared off in 2016. This time, the Cougars are coming off an 8-5 season that saw UH stumble to the finish line with a 56-point loss to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl. That’s why Dana Holgorsen will be on the UH sideline instead of Major Applewhite.
Given that the Cougars are adapting to a new coaching staff and OU already has years of scouting reports on Holgorsen’s modus operandi, this matchup definitely seems to favor the Sooners.
Week 2 — Sept. 7 vs. South Dakota (Norman, Okla.)
Sooner Nation should expect to see this paycheck game relegated to dreaded pay-per-view status. OU’s reserves should get plenty of snaps when the Sooners take the field against a South Dakota team from the FCS ranks that finished last season 4-7. Count on Lincoln Riley making light work of the Coyotes as his team prepares to travel to California in a week.
Week 3 — Sept. 14 at UCLA (Pasadena, Calif.)
UCLA stumbled through Chip Kelly’s first season as head coach in 2018, including a blowout loss to OU in Norman. Will that give the Sooners a false sense of confidence for their return trip to the Rose Bowl? It may not matter if the Bruins haven’t taken big strides from last year.
On the other hand, if UCLA has made a leap, OU could be in for a nasty surprise.
Week 5 — Sept. 28 vs. Texas Tech (Norman, Okla.)
The Red Raiders put a scare into OU in ‘18 before eventually losing a 51-46 shootout. Unfortunately for Kliff Kingsbury, it was another in a string of “almosts” that eventually led to his ouster at the end of the season. Now it’s Matt Wells’ turn.
Tech and OU both have byes in week four, so no advantage either way there.
Week 6 — Oct. 5 at Kansas (Lawrence, Kan.)
Fireworks ensued during OU’s last visit to Lawrence in 2017 after KU’s captains snubbed Baker Mayfield during the coin toss prior to the game. It will likely take a similar brouhaha for anything memorable to come out of this year’s game. Then again, the Jayhawks have made a habit of scoring huge upsets when least expected, and the Sooners will be looking ahead to a big game a week later.
Week 7 — Oct. 12 vs. Texas (Dallas)
The Red River rivals split their two meetings last season, but Bevo will be wearing the Golden Hat when the Longhorns arrive at the Cotton Bowl this season. Texas’ offensive explosion in last year’s regular season game brought Mike Stoops to the end of the road as OU’s defensive coordinator. Alex Grinch will look to get a better performance out of his defense this time.
Week 8 — Oct. 19 vs. West Virginia (Norman, Okla.)
The Sooners and Mountaineers combined to score 115 points when they played in Morgantown a year ago. OU’s three-point victory kept WVU winless versus the Sooners since joining the Big 12 in 2012. First-year head coach Neal Brown will try to break through that glass ceiling against an OU team coming off an emotional rivalry game.
Week 9 — Oct. 26 at Kansas State (Manhattan, Kan.)
Under Bill Snyder, a trip to play the Wildcats was always daunting. New head coach Chris Klieman will try to retain that same Manhattan magic.
KSU could be in for a long year under the new coaching regime. Beating OU would give the program some positive momentum going forward. The Sooners should count on a strong effort from the Wildcats.
Week 11 — Nov. 9 vs. Iowa State (Norman, Okla.)
Iowa State has played OU tough since head coach Matt Campbell was hired in 2016, including an upset win over the Sooners at Owen Field in '17. Notably, OU’s 10-point win last season came before ISU made the switch to Brock Purdy at quarterback.
The Cyclones will be a trendy dark horse in this year’s Big 12 race. Another win against OU would solidify their status as a contender.
Week 12 — Nov. 16 at Baylor (Waco, Texas)
Put the Sooners on upset alert for this trip to Baylor. The Bears are taking huge steps forward under Matt Rhule, and quarterback Charlie Brewer returns to run BU’s potent offense.
This matchup will pose a significant test for OU’s remade defense. In the last two years, Baylor has had no problem moving the ball versus the Sooners.
Week 13 — Nov. 23 vs. TCU (Norman, Okla.)
OU thumped the Horned Frogs, 52-27, last season in what turned out to be a disappointing 7-6 campaign for coach Gary Patterson’s squad. Patterson has never taken kindly to that kind of humiliation; he’d undoubtedly relish getting revenge by beating the Sooners on their home field.
The Horned Frogs travel to Texas Tech a week earlier, so catching OU on the back half of consecutive road games is a tough break.
Week 14 — Nov. 30 at Oklahoma State (Stillwater, Okla.)
In a nod to tradition, the Big 12 league office moved the Bedlam Rivalry back to the final game of the regular season. As a result, the Sooners and Cowboys could end up playing in back-to-back weeks with the conference crown on the line.
OSU came up just short of upsetting the Sooners last season in Norman, losing a 48-47 thriller and extending OU’s winning streak in the in-state rivalry to four games. The Pokes have to be tiring of that trend.
— 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.