The Oklahoma Sooners’ future nonconference lineup has become a checklist of the best programs in college football history.
OU added Michigan to that list Monday, announcing a home-and-home series with the Wolverines in 2025 and 2026.
Sooners athletic director Joe Castiglione called it a commitment “to playing games that celebrate the history and excitement of college football.”
It’s a commitment to confidence. The Sooners aren’t afraid of playing the big boys.
It also commitment to strategy. OU thinks building tough schedules will help pave the path to national championships.
But it’s really about pride.
Scan the list of college football’s winningest programs — OU is going after them all.
The Sooners play Tennessee, No. 11 in all-time wins, in 2014 and 2015.
In ’16 and ’17, OU plays Ohio State, No. 6 all-time. In 2018 and 2019, it plays UCLA — not the most prestigious program, but no slouch.
The Sooners play Army in 2018 and go to West Point in 2020.
Then it’s back to the national powers.
No. 5 Nebraska in 2021 and 2022. Now No. 1 Michigan in 2025 and 2026. And OU and LSU are trying to reschedule a home-and-home previously set for 2018 and 2019.
The Sooners faced No. 4 Notre Dame in 2012 and 2013, and beat No. 8 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
They’ve also played No. 3 Texas a time or two over the years.
So from 2013-2025, OU, which is No. 7 in all-time wins, will have played eight of the other top 15 teams in history. Keep in mind Ivy League teams Yale, Harvard, Penn and Princeton make up four of the remaining teams on the list. So the Sooners have checked off all the other opponents besides USC and Georgia.
No school in the Big 12 can compare. TCU has slated future games against Minnesota, Arkansas and Ohio State. Texas will play Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, Arkansas, Notre Dame and Maryland before 2023.
But that’s it about it.
Rising schools such as Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State are keeping their schedules soft. OSU coach Mike Gundy has said many times he prefers it that way.
The Sooners have no interest in that ideology. Their scheduling of marquee nonconference games is elite among the elite, and coach Bob Stoops said in May he thinks that will help in the College Football Playoff era.
“To me, that’s the biggest issue,” Stoops said. “Some conferences play nine conference games; some play eight. That’s a big deal, who you’re playing in those other four, or other three. We’re playing nine and Tennessee. We just had Notre Dame and Florida State outside of our nine conference games. Hopefully that should make a difference, if you’re all winning.”
Ohio State has future games scheduled against Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, OU, North Carolina, TCU, Oregon, Texas and Boston College.
Nebraska will play Miami, Oregon, Colorado, Cincinnati, OU and Tennessee.
Other programs like Alabama take it easy outside of their conference. The Crimson Tide hasn’t scheduled any challenges beyond West Virginia in 2014 and Wisconsin in 2015.
There are plenty of other schools making tough schedules, but no one outside of Ohio State is doing it in quite the same fashion or frequency as OU. The Sooners haven’t won a national title since 2000, but simply by playing games that keep the OU brand in the national light, there’s no questioning the Sooners’ place in the food chain.
No one can predict if Michigan will be any good in 2026, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that Michigan is Michigan.
These games are must-see TV. They build a dream list of gameday destinations for fans and players.
The Sooners are scheduling for pride and power, and they’re doing at a level unlike anyone in the country.