The Oklahoma Sooners are currently enjoying a historic run of five consecutive Big 12 championships that have also led to four appearances in the College Football Playoff. After a three-year run of having two Heisman Trophy winners and a runner-up at quarterback, the Sooners will start the 2020 season with an untested field general, but plenty of talent in all areas of the depth chart to extend those streaks.
The Sooners face a couple of challenges and a few potential trap games they'll need to overcome if they are going to emulate their recent success once again. Traditional rivalry games against Texas and Oklahoma State will be no cakewalks and upstarts like Baylor and Iowa State could be tricky. Back-to-back roadies to TCU and West Virginia promise no easy Ws either. The one saving grace is that the non-conference slate is none-too-arduous with FCS Missouri State, not-quite-there-yet Tennessee, and two-weeks-to-prepare-for Army being a good warmup for conference play.
Bye: Week 3
Week 1 — Sept. 5 vs. Missouri State (Norman, Okla.)
You probably couldn't have picked a more perfect game to work out the wrinkles of this new offense and help redshirt freshman QB Spencer Rattler get his sea legs under him. Last year the Bears went 1-10 and in the only game against an FBS opponent, lost 58-6 at Tulane. So, you can do the math on this one.
Week 2 — Sept. 12 vs. Tennessee (Norman, Okla.)
Remember a few years ago when third-year head coach Jeremy Pruitt was asked in an on-field interview at halftime of a big loss to Alabama, "What is it going to take for your team to be more competitive in the second half?" and he answered, "A couple of recruiting cycles." Well, the Volunteers made some headway last year, going 8-5 and winning the Gator Bowl, but they are still a recruiting cycle or two away from playing at the level of a College Football Playoff team. The Sooners will be pushed a little but should still win by a few touchdowns.
Week 4 — Sept. 26 at Army West Point (West Point, N.Y.)
We all know how dangerous a game this can be. The Black Knights have had great success against bluebloods lately, pushing the Sooners and Michigan to overtime before losing the last two years. Army finished 30th nationally in total defense last season and returns seven starters on that side of the ball. But Oklahoma's offense is not something the Knights are used to seeing. Similarly, the Sooners will get two weeks to prepare for Army's triple-option attack, which will be a huge plus.
Week 5 — Oct. 3 vs. Baylor (Norman, Okla.)
Now here is where things start to get serious. The Sooners and Bears squared off twice last season and OU won both games, but not without a lot of chewed nails. The Sooners came back from a 28-3 deficit to win in Waco 34-31 and then the two teams went into overtime before OU was able to squelch Baylor 30-23 in the Big 12 Championship Game. Starting quarterback Charlie Brewer is back for his fourth season and he has enough talent around him to give the Sooners a lot of headaches. It is imperative that Rattler is settled in and that some go-to targets have emerged by the time this one rolls around.
Week 6 — Oct. 10 vs. Texas (Cotton Bowl in Dallas)
Things will go from the frying pan into the fire as the Sooners transition into their Red River Showdown game with the Longhorns at the Texas State Fair. UT will probably be one of the most experienced teams in the FBS for 2020, behind four-year starting QB Sam Ehlinger and 16 other returning starters. These two teams usually play this under the umbrella of "throw out the records" but with both rosters filled with talent, let's just roll the ball out there and let this one get settled through 60 minutes of play. We could be in store for another classic.
Week 7 — Oct. 17 at Iowa State (Ames, Iowa)
This looks like the first of a handful of trap games for the Sooners, coming off back-to-back showdowns with Baylor and Texas. The Cyclones get plucky Brock Purdy back at quarterback and other weapons like running back Breece Hall and All-Big 12 tight end Charlie Kolar. But there will also be a mostly-new offensive line, so the Sooners will look to win this one in the trenches in what should be one of those dirt-under-the-nails type of games. And by the way, should we be reading anything into the fact that the ISU big wigs have made the Sooners their Homecoming game?
Week 8 — Oct. 24 vs. Oklahoma State (Norman, Okla.)
Well of course if it was up to Mike Gundy, he'd have his Cowboys back on campus May 1 and getting ready for the 2020 season months before other programs would. So advantage Pokes, right? I know, I know, I'm kidding here people. But you have to give Gundy some credit, he's chomping at the bit because he thinks he's got a good team coming back in 2020 and he can't wait to get out there on the gridiron and prove it. But the Sooners have won five straight Bedlam meetings and will have the home crowd behind them. Advantage OU. Again.
Week 9 — Oct. 31 at TCU (Fort Worth, Texas)
Coming on the heels of another rivalry game, this is what I'm labeling as trap game No. 2. And yes, add to the fact that this will be Halloween night in Fort Worth (at least, I hope the TV suits opt for this to be a night game) could make for a wild atmosphere at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Last year, despite out-gaining the Horned Frogs by nearly 300 yards (511 vs. 204) and holding onto the ball for nearly 40 minutes, somehow this one ended up being a white-knuckler. The Sooners held on for a rickety 28-24 win. Quarterback Max Duggan set all kinds of freshman records for TCU last year and will have some weapons to work with.
Week 10 — Nov. 7 at West Virginia (Morgantown, W.Va.)
Last year's 52-14 blowout loss to OU was part of a paltry 2-6 finish that kept the Mountaineers at home in December with a 5-7 record. West Virginia is entering Year 2 of the Neal Brown era and is probably another recruiting cycle or two away from contending in the Big 12. But the Sooners need to beware of taking this one too lightly. Besides being at home, the Mountaineers get a bye week to prepare. Tread lightly OU.
Week 11 — Nov. 14 vs. Kansas State (Norman, Okla.)
With visions of K-State's students flooding the field after last year's 48-41 upset loss in Manhattan, the Sooners should be locked-in on this one and bent on revenge. Do-it-all quarterback Skylar Thompson returns but will be surrounded by a lot of newbies in that offense. The Wildcat defense has a ton of holes to fill as well, so don't look for the Sooners to take it easy on them. Given the chance, I'm thinking OU will take every opportunity to pile it on here.
Week 12 — Nov. 21 vs. Kansas (Norman, Okla.)
Well finally, a breather. Les Miles' Jayhawks found a little footing last year but still have a ways to go to become competitive on a consistent basis in the Big 12. OU hasn't lost to the Jayhawks since 1997 and has not scored less than 34 points on them since 2005's 19-3 victory. Expect another 40-plus-point blowout here. We'll let you know when the Sooners should be concerned with a Kansas football team again. It certainly won't be here.
Week 13 — Nov. 28 at Texas Tech (Lubbock, Texas)
Guess what? One more potential trap game looms in Lubbock for the Sooners. Yes, I'm calling it here. The last seven times OU has played Tech, the Sooners have averaged 44.7 points per game. But four of those games have been back-and-forth scorefests too. And if the Sooners have their minds on the Big 12 Championship Game, anything short of taking this game serious could come back to bite them in the butt. Stay focused guys, we'll see you in Arlington.
— Written by Eric Sorenson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He is a college football, college baseball and college hockey addict... and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Stitch_Head.