Monday, July 14, 2014
Oklahoma playing B1G power programs
By Brian Bennett
I still hear from some fans who think the Big Ten should have gone after Oklahoma in the last round of expansion. That wasn't going to happen for a variety of reasons (academics, demographics, the Oklahoma State factor, etc). But Big Ten fans will still get to see plenty of the Sooners in the near future.
Michigan became the latest league squad to add Oklahoma to its future nonconference schedules. Don't start making plans and booking hotel rooms just yet, as the games are set for 2025 and 2026. May we all be so fortunate to be alive for these games, as 18-year-old freshmen who might play in the first game are just 7 years old right now. I feel really old all of a sudden.
Still, it's a series to celebrate, even though we'll probably forget about it for a long while. Despite the prestigious history of both programs, they've only met on the field one time -- in the 1976 Orange Bowl, which the Sooners won 14-6. Oklahoma ranks seventh all-time in wins in the FBS; Michigan, of course, is first.
And it's great news that this is a home-and-home series, as we've seen some of these big regional matchups take place on neutral fields. Michigan will go to Norman, Oklahoma, in 2025, while the Sooners visit the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Sept. 12, 2026. I would say mark your calendars, but if you already own a 2026 calendar, you're probably too fastidious to need such a reminder.
Oklahoma is already scheduled to play Ohio State in a home-and-home in 2016 and 2017 and will renew its Big 8/Big 12 rivalry with Nebraska in 2021 and 2022. You never know who is going to be good when you schedule that far into the future, but the Sooners seem as good a bet as any to maintain a high level of play over the next decade-plus, given their history and resources.
Big Ten teams continue to make good on their promise to beef up nonconference schedules in anticipation of the College Football Playoff. Michigan, freed (you might say) from the Notre Dame series after this season, already had some good but exactly mouth-watering home-and-home matchups slated in the future against Arkansas, Virginia Tech and UCLA. The Oklahoma series rises to absolute marquee level, along with the neutral-site showdown with Florida to open the 2017 campaign.
A program of Michigan's stature should be playing these kind of nonconference games at least once every season. Oklahoma is clearly game for these heavyweight matchups. It should be fun watching how the Big Ten fares against the Sooners in those six scheduled meetings in the next 12 years.