The season begins Saturday when Utah State, which went 4-8 last season, visits Owen Field at 6 p.m. OU better enjoy this one. On its 12-game schedule it is the only game where victory seems certain.
The non-conference schedule kicks into high gear when the Seminoles come to Norman Sept. 11. It is the first meeting between the programs since the Sooners’ claimed the 2000 national championship with a win over the heavily-favored Seminoles in the Orange Bowl.
Air Force invade Owen Field Sept. 18. Anyone thinking this game will be a cake walk should remember the Falcons went 8-5 last season and crushed Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl.
The first road test comes Sept. 25 when OU faces Cincinnati. The Bearcats are coming off an undefeated regular season. There’s also a new coach with Butch Jones taking over after Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame following the 2009 season.
If OU can make its way through the first four games unscathed it should be ready for the Big 12.
But there’s no way to gauge the benefits of playing tough teams.
“I don’t know how much it benefits you,” Stoops said. “If you don’t get anyone hurt, it does. If you don’t get anyone hurt and you win, it definitely benefits you.”
The Sooners are going to find out quickly whether it did them any good or not. They face No. 4 Texas Oct. 2 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. As usual many believe this game will decide the winner of the Big 12 South. The Sooners have lost four of the last five in the historic series, but have still managed to win three of the last four Big 12 titles.
OU faces all three of its Big 12 North foes in a three-week period. Iowa State visits Norman Oct. 16. The Sooners go to Missouri Oct. 23 and Colorado comes to town Oct. 30.