Strange schedule for the Sooners this season. It’s front-loaded. That’s hard to do in college football 2013.
Georgia’s schedule is front-loaded. The Bulldogs play Clemson, South Carolina and LSU, all in September. Alabama opens the season with Virginia Tech and Texas A&M, but then plays only LSU of that caliber the rest of the season. Ole Miss plays Texas, Alabama and Texas A&M in the first half of its schedule.
Notre Dame plays Michigan, Michigan State, OU and Arizona State in the Irish’s first half. Cal plays Ohio State, Oregon and UCLA. Arizona State plays Wisconsin, Stanford, Southern Cal and Notre Dame.
So some teams have loaded early schedules. But in this age of most teams playing only one legitimate non-conference game, it’s hard to have a killer early schedule.
But of OU’s four toughest opponents (at least going into the season), three come in the first half of the season: Notre Dame, TCU and Texas. All on consecutive weeks.
“We have an incredibly tough schedule throughout, but in particular when you look at the first six games with our non-conference schedule to go with West Virginia and Texas, I believe, in our first couple of games, also is just really challenging and difficult,” Bob Stoops said. “So it will be a tough challenge when you look at that first half of the season. We traditionally have scheduled very difficult, so it will be a big challenge for the coaches and players to be able to play not only those games but then finish out the year.”
OSU, TCU and Texas are considered the prime challengers, along with OU, for the Big 12 title. So OU gets two of those three early, along with Notre Dame. And it’s not like OU’s other three games are total pushovers. The Sooners will be big favorites over Louisiana-Monroe, Tulsa and West Virginia, all at Owen Field, but all three had their moments in 2012. UL-Monroe beat Arkansas and dang near beat Baylor. Tulsa won Conference USA. West Virginia was ranked in the top five before a second-half swoon.
It’s a good schedule. And it’s incredibly front-loaded. Good thing four of the games are at home.