Commentary

OU nonconference schedule loaded

Updated: September 30, 2011, 12:58 PM ET
By Jake Trotter | SoonerNation

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma's nonconference schedule through 2020 has started to shape up. The slate includes as many blockbusters, including Florida State, as clunkers, such as Ball State, OU's opponent this weekend.

Through the next eight seasons, the Sooners have home-and-home showdowns scheduled with Notre Dame (2012-13), Tennessee (2014-15), Ohio State (2016-17) and LSU (2018-19).

Realigning to the Pac-12 without Texas could have jeopardized those matchups at the expense of preserving the Red River Rivalry.

"We would have kept it the same and not played Texas, or we would have had to adjust other games, all the other nonconference games," coach Bob Stoops said this week. "It would have been one of those two options, and those are legitimate. That's would have had to happen."

Stoops has pointed out that the OU-Texas game in its present form might have been "out the window" because of a Pac-12 rule that prevents nonconference games from being played after September. While accurate, the league has made exceptions. Both USC and Stanford play Notre Dame after the September deadline. It's reasonable to believe the Pac-12 would have made another exception to accommodate the Red River Rivalry to be played during the State Fair of Texas in October.

"We may not have lost them," Stoops said. "Those were strong considerations, big reasons why we've gone the path we have."

[+] EnlargeJosh Heupel
AP Photo/Ted S. WarrenQuarterback Josh Heupel and the Sooners lost to Notre Dame in South Bend in 1999.
That path, for now, is about sticking with the Big 12. Meaning OU gets to keep its marquee nonconference dates. And the Sooners have plenty of them.

Next year OU is scheduled to play at TCU, which went undefeated last season, won the Rose Bowl, and is ranked No. 20 right now. Later, Notre Dame will travel to Norman for the first time in 46 years. The Sooners are 1-8 all-time against the Irish, which includes a 34-30 loss in South Bend in Stoops' first year.

After Oklahoma completes its home-and-home obligations in 2019, the Sooners are pushing to resume the Nebraska rivalry. Athletic director Joe Castiglione proposed the series last fall after Nebraska announced it was leaving the Big 12. OU has requested that the 2020 game be played in Norman, the 2021 game in Lincoln, which would be the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Game of the Century. Before committing, Nebraska is waiting to see what its Big Ten schedule looks like those two years.

The Sooners already have agreed to a road game with Army in 2020 in what will be the fourth meeting between the two programs. Army is scheduled to come to Norman in 2018.

Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation.

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