With the 2014 season arriving in the not-too-distant future, we’re breaking down every Big 12 team’s complete schedule.
We continue this series with the Oklahoma Sooners:
Nonconference opponents (with 2013 record)
Aug. 30: Louisiana Tech (4-8)
Sept. 6: at Tulsa (3-9)
Sept. 13: Tennessee (5-7)
Big 12 home games
Oct. 18: Kansas State
Nov. 8: Baylor
Nov. 22: Kansas
Dec. 6: Oklahoma State
Big 12 road games
Sept. 20: at West Virginia
Oct. 4: at TCU
Nov. 1: at Iowa State
Nov. 15: at Texas Tech
Big 12 neutral site games
Oct. 11: Texas (Dallas)
Gut-check time: Last season, Baylor embarrassed the Sooners in Waco with a 29-point victory on its way to winning the Big 12 championship. The Baylor game will give the Sooners a chance at payback for that humiliation, and an opportunity to gain a stranglehold on the league race. But neither will come easy. The Bears return plenty of firepower, including reigning All-Big 12 quarterback Bryce Petty and his favorite target, Antwan Goodley, who too is an All-American candidate.
Trap game: After playing host to Kansas State in mid-October, the Sooners might be tempted to turn their eyes toward the showdown with Baylor. But the week before they play the Bears, the Sooners must to travel to Iowa State. The Cyclones have the pieces to produce a dangerous offense under first-year (and former Sooner) coordinator Mark Mangino. They also have played Oklahoma tough its previous two trips to Ames.
Snoozer: The final month of Oklahoma’s schedule includes the clash with Baylor, a trip to Texas Tech and then Bedlam. But it also includes a home date with Kansas, which finally broke its 27-game conference-losing streak last fall. Since Bob Stoops took over at Oklahoma, not once have the Jayhawks played the Sooners to within two touchdowns. Don’t expect that to change this season, either.
Telltale stretch: The Baylor game looms large. And, historically, Oklahoma hasn’t fared well in Lubbock, where it travels a week later in November. But to get to keep the stakes high to that point of the schedule, the Sooners must first take care of business during a key three-game tilt in October, when they go to TCU, face Texas and play host to Kansas State. The Horned Frogs hung with Oklahoma in Norman for three quarters last year, despite possessing virtually no offensive threat and a hobbled Devonte Fields. Under new coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham, the TCU offense should be better this season; and Fields, the 2012 AP Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, appears to be 100 percent again. The Longhorns, meanwhile, put the hammer down on Oklahoma last season. And Kansas State won in its last trip to Norman. All three opponents are Top 25-caliber. All three will be tough outs.
Final analysis: While the schedule features some potential potholes, it’s possible -- if not probable -- that Oklahoma will be favored in every game this season. Tennessee is still down. Texas has a new coach and quarterback concerns. And Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State all have to pass through Norman. If the Sooners play anywhere near the level they did in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Alabama, there's no one on the schedule they can't beat. And probably no one they shouldn't beat, either.