NORMAN — Oklahoma's nonconference slate in 2012 features its first true road season opener in years — a late-night start in the desert — followed by its first Football Championship Subdivision opponent since 2009's game against Idaho State.
The Sooners then start their Big 12 schedule, which will be interrupted in late October for a visit from an old adversary, which is struggling through a rough summer.
Here's a look at Oklahoma's three nonconference opponents for the 2012 season — UTEP, Florida A&M and Notre Dame.
When: Saturday, Sept. 1, 9:30 p.m.
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas
Head coach: Mike Price (45-52 in eight years)
All-time series vs. OU: 0-2
2011 record: 5-7 (2-6 in Conference USA)
Outlook: UTEP was added to the Sooners' 2012 schedule after TCU, then a planned nonconference opponent, joined the Big 12 and became a conference game.
Offensively, senior quarterback Nick Lamaison returns after an injury-filled junior season. He threw for 1,718 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and was sacked 19 times.
His top two targets from last year, senior Mike Edwards and sophomore Jordan Leslie, return, but the Miners' leading rusher — sophomore Nathan Jeffery — ran for just 166 yards and a touchdown.
UTEP's defense, which gave up 30.3 points per game a year ago (86th in FBS in scoring defense), returns just four starters.
Projection: The late kickoff and a true road opener might mean a relatively slow start for the Sooners, but they still win this one with little trouble. OU 56, UTEP 7
When: Saturday, Sept. 8 (Time TBD)
Where: Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman
Head coach: Joe Taylor (32-13 in four years)
All-time series vs. OU: First meeting
2011 record: 7-4 (5-3 in Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference)
Outlook: Sophomore quarterback Damien Fleming returns, as does leading rusher Joe Rocker (524 yards and three touchdowns).