Big 12: Okahoma Sooners
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Spring practice is only one day away from starting in the Big 12 as Texas kicks off its work Friday afternoon in Austin.
I can hardly wait.
Here are some stories from around the conference to get you primed.
- Doug Farrar of The Washington Post wonders if Texas Tech's Graham Harrell can crack the stigma dogging spread quarterbacks promulgated by NFL teams.
- Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler has turned down the opportunity to join South Florida's staff as defensive coordinator, according to Tampa Tribune reporter Brett McMurphy.
- Considering the Virginia staff is already stacked with an offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and offensive line coach, Accsports.com figures out what former Kansas State coach Ron Prince will be doing on Al Groh's staff.
- Dallas Morning News columnist Kevin Sherrington wonders if Texas Tech coach Mike Leach really wanted to use the word "extort" to describe his contract negotiations last week -- especially considering the nation's struggling economy.
- Former Nebraska fullback Willie Miller is in court on a charge of road rage after allegedly ramming an off-duty Omaha policeman with his automobile after a high-speed chase last April, Todd Cooper of the Omaha World-Herald reports.
- Kansas is hoping that the atmosphere at the school's basketball victory over Nebraska helped convince several key junior recruits to attend the school, Stephen Montemayor of the University Daily Kansan writes. Most notable among the attendees was Wichita, Kan., quarterback Blake Bell, who is also considering a group of suitors including Notre Dame, Oklahoma, LSU, Georgia and Nebraska.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Before becoming a head coach in 1999, Bob Stoops worked under a varied group of coaches. Each helped shape his career.
While working at Iowa after playing for the Hawkeyes, Stoops worked on a staff that included legendary members like Hayden Fry, Barry Alvarez, Dan McCarney and Bill Brazier. At Kansas State he worked with Jim Leavitt as a co-coordinator under Bill Snyder. And at Florida, he was defensive coordinator on a national championship team in 1996 that was coached by Steve Spurrier.
Stoops credits all his mentors with molding his coaching career that has included three national title game appearances heading into Thursday's game against Florida.
"I've been with some great head coaches, but also some great assistant coaches, too," Stoops said. "I've just been around a lot of just quality coaches that I've learned from."
Fry, whom Stoops played for during his career at Iowa, still holds special prominence.
"Coach Fry I thought was a great leader and did a great job with his assistant coaches," Stoops said.
His career began as a defensive backs coach with Snyder in 1989. He remained at Kansas State for seven seasons.
"Coach Snyder was just a determined guy," Stoops said. "I was at the ground floor at Kansas State. I learned a lot from that experience."
But working with Spurrier gave him his best training for becoming a head coach.
"Coach Spurrier was just an amazing competitor," Stoops said. "I felt I learned to really love the competition of it all from watching him and being around him. All his assistant coaches were great recruiters, very professional in how they handled their business. So as a young guy, I got to see that all the time."
His Florida association led to an interesting exchange at Wednesday's press conference. Former Florida sports information director John Humenik, who now works as the executive director for the College Sports Information Directors of America, referred to Stoops as "Bobby" when he left the podium.
"I haven't been called that since I left Florida," Stoops said, chuckling.