OU football schedule breakdown: Longhorns figure to be biggest challenge for Sooners in 2020
NORMAN — OU’s schedule took on a slightly different makeup when the Big 12 announced its revamped schedule last week.
Either way, the Sooners are favorites to win the Big 12 title for the sixth consecutive season. Here’s a look at the path the Sooners must go if they are to get there and if they want to make a fourth consecutive College Football Playoff.
Sept. 12 vs. Missouri State: The Sooners’ non-conference schedule lost much of its luster with the cancellation of a home game against Tennessee and a road trip to Army, though there is some intrigue in this game. That won’t include the result, though. The FCS Bears are in their first year under Bobby Petrino and will play just three games this fall — this one plus a home-and-home with Central Arkansas.
Sept. 26 vs. Kansas State: This game was originally scheduled to be in mid-November, but now it’s the conference opener coming off a bye week. The Wildcats stunned the Sooners last season, leading 48-23 in the fourth before OU rallied to get within a touchdown before coming up just short. Kansas State hasn’t beaten OU in consecutive years since 1996-97.
Oct. 3 at Iowa State: This game has turned into one of the more entertaining series in the Big 12, with each of the past three meetings being decided in the final minutes. Brock Purdy returns as the Cyclones’ quarterback after throwing for five touchdowns against the Sooners a year ago.
Oct. 10 vs. Texas (Dallas): The Sooners figure to be without running back Rhamondre Stevenson, defensive end Ronnie Perkins and receiver Trejan Bridges for the first four or five games of the year, barring an unexpected change. While they will be missed across their suspension — especially after the news running back Kennedy Brooks plans to opt out — this will be the game they are missed the most. Perkins would be key to keeping Texas’ Sam Ehlinger contained in the pocket and no other returning back has had more than one carry against the Longhorns. Unsurprisingly, this figures to be the most challenging game on the schedule.
Oct. 24 at TCU: The Horned Frogs haven’t had a ton of bite the last couple of seasons but even last year when they struggled, TCU gave the Sooners plenty of problems. Quarterback Max Duggan returns after running for 92 yards and a score last year against OU. TCU will need to find a way to put pressure on OU’s quarterback, presumably Spencer Rattler, if this game is to be competitive.
Oct. 31 at Texas Tech: The Red Raiders were picked ninth in the Big 12 this season, ahead of only Kansas. Alan Bowman is likely to reclaim his job as the starting quarterback after missing all of Big 12 play a year ago due to injury. Bowman gave the Sooners fits in 2018 before a recurrence of a partially collapsed lung sent him to the hospital. Whether Tech can stay competitive in this one comes down to defense, though. The Red Raiders struggled defensively a year ago, causing Matt Wells to use the transfer portal heavily on that side of the ball over the offseason.
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Nov. 7 vs. Kansas: OU’s final three games of the schedule pack in plenty of intrigue. But this game figures to be not much more than a little pit stop on the way there. Pooka Williams has run for 379 combined yards the last two seasons against the Sooners, but there’s little chance even with Williams’ heroics that this game will be competitive in the second half.
Nov. 21 vs. OSU: Originally, the Bedlam rivals were scheduled to meet in October, a rare mid-season game for a series that has settled into a late-season showdown. But the schedule-makers moved it back close to its typical date and this season’s matchup has the potential to be a doozy. Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard give the Cowboys plenty of offensive firepower. There has yet to be a Big 12 Championship Game between the schools but this could be the year.
Nov. 28 at West Virginia: OU has piled the points on the Mountaineers in recent years, averaging more than 50 points in the last six meetings. Neil Brown has West Virginia heading in a positive direction, especially after Jarret Doege took over as quarterback late last season, but it’s hard to see its defense taking a big enough step forward to challenge the Sooners especially with a defensive-coordinator-by-committee approach following Vic Koenning’s late July departure.
Dec. 5 vs. Baylor: A rematch of last year’s Big 12 Championship Game. Dave Aranda takes over after Matt Rhule’s departure to the NFL and Aranda has preached defense first. Baylor still has plenty of offensive weapons, though, especially in quarterback Charlie Brewer. Brewer hurt the Sooners with his feet in last year’s regular-season game and the Sooners will need to slow him down this time around if they are to extend their winning streak in the series to seven.