NORMAN — When this year's Big 12 football schedule was released, Oklahoma's toughest stretch seemed to be early in the season.
The Sooners traveled to Notre Dame on Sept. 28, followed by back-to-back Big 12 games against TCU and Texas.
When those games rolled around, though, the Fighting Irish had already dropped a game and TCU and Texas had lost two each.
Next season, the Sooners start Big 12 play with the same three teams as in 2013 — West Virginia, TCU and Texas.
The Big 12 schedule was released Tuesday by the league and includes Oklahoma home games against Kansas State, Baylor, Kansas and Oklahoma State and road games at West Virginia, TCU, Iowa State and Texas Tech.
The Longhorns could have another coach next season, and TCU and West Virginia will be looking to bounce back from disappointing seasons, although the Mountaineers' win over the Horned Frogs last week kept West Virginia's bowl hopes alive.
Here are five other highlights of OU's 2014 schedule:
HIT THE ROAD
The Sooners will play three Big 12 games away from Norman before their home conference opener Oct. 18 against Kansas State.
Oklahoma will have already played three Big 12 games by that point — Sept. 27 at West Virginia, Oct. 4 at TCU and Oct. 11 against Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Since the Big 12's inception, the Sooners have never played three conference games before their first home game against a conference opponent.
They've had their Big 12 home opener later once — Oct. 19, 2002, against Iowa State. This will be the fourth time they've opened Big 12 play on Oct. 18.
The Sooners also play at Tulsa in their final nonconference game Sept. 20, meaning OU will go more than a month between home games for the first time in the same season since 1999 and just the 10th time in the last 100 years.
TO BE ANNOUNCED
There were a pair of asterisks on the Big 12 schedule when it was released Tuesday, and both involve the Sooners.
Oklahoma's game at Iowa State could be played either Thursday, Oct. 30, or Saturday, Nov. 1.
Also, the Bedlam game in Norman could be played either Nov. 29 — two days after Thanksgiving — or the next Saturday, Dec. 1.
BYE BYE BYE
The Sooners get a quick bye, with a week off after just one game.
After opening against Louisiana Tech on Aug. 30, the Sooners take a week off before hosting Tennessee on Sept. 13.
The other scheduled bye right now is Oct. 25, between the Oct. 18 game against Kansas State and before the game at Iowa State.
Oklahoma could get one more bye if the Bedlam game is played on Dec. 6.
That would give the Sooners (and Cowboys) a bye during Thanksgiving week for the second consecutive season.
The Sooners' final nonconference game will be against a very familiar opponent, Tulsa. But the other two will be against teams Oklahoma hasn't played much.
The opener will be the first meeting between the Sooners and Louisiana Tech. And Oklahoma has never played Tennessee during the regular season. The Sooners and Volunteers met in the Orange Bowl in 1939 and 1968.
Oklahoma makes its first trip to Knoxville, Tenn., in 2015.
RED RIVER FRIVOLITIES
It doesn't mean much, but the last seven times Oklahoma and Texas have met on Oct. 11, the teams have alternated wins.
That would be a good sign for the Sooners, who lost the last meeting on that date, 45-35, in 2008.
The streak started with Texas' 27-17 win in 1969.
The Sooners haven't played an opponent other than the Longhorns on Oct. 11 since 1930.