The Houston Chronicle reports that an OU-University of Houston game is being finalized to kick off the 2016 season at NRG Stadium (formerly Reliant Stadium). And if the Sooners indeed play in Houston, only one question arises.
What took the Sooners so long?
Houston is a big city for the university, both for football recruits and alumni base. Lots of big-time OU donors live in Greater Houston. The Sooners have been recruiting players from Greater Houston for more than half a century, from Greg Pruitt to Darrell Reed to Cedric Jones to hundreds of others.
And yet OU has played only once in Houston in the last 35 years. The Sooners beat Colorado 29-7 in the 2002 Big 12 Championship Game. OU has played only eight games ever in Houston, and four of those were before World War II.
Compare that to Greater Dallas. Even discounting the OU-Texas game, the Sooners are over at Fort Worth or playing in JerryWorld or playing in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Aside from OU-Texas, OU has played four games in Dallas-Fort Worth in the last five years — a regular-season game against Brigham Young in Arlington, a Big 12 title game against Nebraska in Arlington, a game at TCU and a Cotton Bowl Classic game against Texas A&M in Arlington.
Dallas-Fort Worth is OU’s home away from home. But Houston, not so much. In the last 51 years, OU has played seven games in Greater Los Angeles, almost twice as many as in Greater Houston. Heck, in the last 75 years, OU has played as many games in El Paso (four) as in Houston.
The OU-Houston game will be the 2016 version of the AdvoCare Kickoff Classic, which began last season with the Oklahoma State-Mississippi State game and continues with Wisconsin-LSU this August and Arizona State-Texas A&M in 2015.
Houston is a natural destination for OU. Lots of alumni. Easy to get to. Great stadium. And it makes for quite the 2016 schedule for the Sooners. Home against Ohio State and Louisiana-Monroe, at Houston. Plus nine Big 12 games.
Here are OU’s eight games played in Houston:
1912: L Texas A&M 28-6
1913: L Texas 14-6
1921: W Rice 27-0
1938: W Rice 7-6
1968: L SMU 28-27 (Bluebonnet Bowl)
1970: T Alabama 24-24 (Bluebonnet Bowl)
1979: Rice 63-21
2002: Colorado 29-7 (Big 12 title game)