NORMAN — Oklahoma has made it a point to play at least one non-conference game against a traditional power over the last dozen years. Saturday’s game with Notre Dame completes a home-and-home series that adds to a long list the Sooners have played over that span.
There were the games with Alabama in 2002 and 2003, UCLA in 2003 and 2005, Oregon in 2004 and 2006, Washington in 2006 and 2008, Miami in 2007 and 2009, and Florida State in 2010 and 2011. Series with Tennessee, Ohio State, LSU and Nebraska will follow over the next years.
Undoubtedly, playing a tough schedule will help the Sooners when strength of schedule becomes a major component of the college football playoff set to begin in 2014.
“If you look at the BCS formula, it’s been a real positive for us. All things being equal, usually we’ve gotten the nod. I think the large part of that component of it has been us playing a difficult — maybe more difficult than someone else — non-conference schedule,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “I think it’s helped build our program to a degree that if you’re gonna be one of those types of teams, you ought to play those types of teams. Obviously, we haven’t hidden from it.”
But there’s another reason OU has shown a willingness to play major powers in the non-conference schedule.
“This why you come here. You come here to play in big games,” OU offensive lineman Bronson Irwin said. “You play Oklahoma State and Texas every year and those are obviously big games. But you throw in a non-conference game like Notre Dame, or we played against Florida State twice and it was big. It’s very enticing to a young recruit that wants to come in and play against the best.”
Extra time: Oklahoma was off last week, giving it an extra week to prepare for the Notre Dame game. Having the additional practice time can be a blessing or a curse.