The 2018 season is slowly inching closer and it’s time for fans to start dreaming about the crisp, fall air and watching their favorite teams on the gridiron in the Big 12 Conference. Teams have turned over and have plenty of fresh faces. For some programs that’s a good thing, for others, not so much. But that’s part of the beauty of college football.
Let’s take a look at the Oklahoma Sooners, where Lincoln Riley begins his second year as head coach, and a very important one as he starts his life in Norman without Baker Mayfield.
Saturday, September 1st vs. Florida Atlantic
This is not your typical season opener where OU can sleepwalk through the game and walk out of it with a victory. Lane Kiffin has turned around the Owls, who went 11-3 last season and won the Conference-USA title. OU needs to show up, and with Lane Kiffin’s offense, Mike Stoops would be wise to begin preparing now.
Saturday, September 8th vs. UCLA
Talk about two incredible offensive minds in back-to-back weeks. Luckily for OU, they play both games at home. Chip Kelly has a rebuild on his hands, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have a few tricks up his sleeve that might catch OU off guard. On top of that, OU will be working in some new offensive weapons. It’s an interesting first two weeks in Norman.
Saturday, September 15th @ Iowa State
And just like that, the Sooners jump into Big 12 play with a game in Ames against the Cyclones. Something we don’t say often: OU will be looking for revenge against Iowa State after last season’s stunning win in Norman. This will be a telling game for both teams in September to see where they stand in the wide open Big 12.
Saturday, September 22nd vs. Army
This should be one of OU’s easier games, if not easiest. But even Army is coming off a resurgent season at 10-3. There are no cupcakes. Plus, it’s another unique offense with Jeff Monken’s flexbone coming to town. This is a sneaky tough opening four weeks for the Sooners.
Saturday, September 29th vs. Baylor
The good news is that OU plays four of its five games in September in the friendly confines of Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Baylor gave OU a bit of a surprise last season, but there’s no Baker Mayfield to threaten to “spank” the Baylor players in the pregame. Anyway, Baylor should be vastly improved, so OU should not be caught looking ahead to the Red River Rivalry the following week.
Saturday, October 6th @ Texas (Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX)
Ah, one of the great rivalries in sports. Oklahoma. Texas. Cotton Bowl. OU has won three of the last four and six of the last eight, but they’ve still been competitive games, even with Texas struggling in recent years. Each of the past four games have been decided by a touchdown or less. Sign me up for another one of those this fall.
Saturday, October 20th @ TCU
These teams met twice in 2017. Neither game was all that close. OU steamrolled TCU in Norman and then again in the Big 12 Championship game by a combined 42 points. Since joining the Big 12, Gary Patterson has had his issues against the Big 12’s flagship program, winning just one game in seven tries. Both teams will be starting new quarterbacks who should be comfortable by this time in the season.
Saturday, October 27th vs. Kansas State
This was another game that OU had a surprising amount of trouble with. In fact, the Sooners needed a second-half comeback to beat the Wildcats. After an opening seven games that doesn’t allow for a breather, OU will enjoy the bye week and likely come out refreshed at home against a K-State team that had issues in its secondary last year and could have the same problems this fall.
Saturday, November 3rd @ Texas Tech
OU has had Tech’s number, going 19-6 all-time against the Red Raiders, including six-straight wins. Texas Tech has tried to copy the OU mold, but with less talent, and it hasn’t worked when these two teams have met in recent seasons. Four of the six wins have been decided by double digits. Who knows if Kliff Kingbury is coaching for his job at this point in the season, but a win over OU would do wonders for him. OU can’t let the foot off the pedal.
Saturday, November 10th vs. Oklahoma State
Even with Oklahoma State’s rise to becoming one of the better teams in the Big 12, OU has still had their number. OU has won 13 of the past 15 games against the Cowboys and has an 87-18 edge all time. In a wide open Big 12, both teams could find themselves in the hunt for the Big 12 championship game at this point in the season.
Saturday, November 17th vs. Kansas
OU hasn’t lost a game to KU since 1997, winning 13 straight in the series. Will this year be any different? Probably not. David Beaty could find himself with another one-win season and this could be his second-to-last game as the head coach of a Big 12 program.
Saturday, November 24th @ West Virginia
Would you be shocked if this game was played again the following week in Arlington, Texas? I would not be. That would be some storyline if these two teams met again in the Big 12 Championship Game. But since joining the Big 12, West Virginia has yet to beat the Sooners. If there is ever a year for Dana Holgorsen to do it, this is it because he has possibly the best QB in the sport.