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OU football: Sooners face gauntlet over final three weeks of season

If OU is to challenge for the national championship, it will likely need to beat West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU
BY TRAVIS HANEY, Staff Writer, thaney@opubco.com Published: February 14, 2012

NORMAN — If Oklahoma is still in the running for the conference or national titles by mid-November, the Sooners will certainly be tested by their stretch run.

The Big 12 football schedule was released Tuesday morning, and OU learned it will finish the conference season with a Nov. 17 trip to West Virginia, a Thanksgiving week home game against Oklahoma State and then a Dec. 1 finale against TCU in Fort Worth.

OSU is the defending Big 12 champ, and newcomers West Virginia and TCU could each receive strong consideration to be favorites in the league in 2012.

OU opens its Big 12 schedule Sept. 22 against Kansas State. As it currently stands, it would be off the following week but then have no breaks for the remainder of the schedule, playing nine consecutive weeks.

Oklahoma is scheduled to play at Texas Tech on Oct. 6, against Texas in Dallas on Oct. 13, host Kansas on Oct. 20, host Notre Dame on Oct. 27, play at Iowa State on Nov. 3, host Baylor on Nov. 10 – and then enter the gauntlet of West Virginia, OSU and TCU.

The release from the Big 12 did allow for some wiggle room, saying the “dates are subject to change as adjustments are expected to accommodate television partners' requests. Television selections for the first three weeks of the season, and special dates are due to the conference (by) July 1.”

It's unclear whether that disclaimer pertains to moving games within a given week, or moving games altogether – but the door appears left open to all options.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione did say last week that the league's ADs were hopeful that the schedule could be released without games being moved from one part of the season to another. That, he said, was a big reason why the schedule announcement was protracted.

A release Tuesday from OU said it will reveal its non-conference schedule at a later date, but the mystery is slowly being unlocked.

The Oct. 27 Notre Dame date has long been locked. Sources have not resisted the idea, first reported Friday by CBS Sports, that OU might travel to play UTEP for its Sept. 1 opener. Those sources said OU would be resigned to play an FCS team for its other void, either on Sept. 8 or Sept. 15.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday afternoon that Florida A&M will likely travel to Owen Field to play the Sooners on Sept. 8, in what would be OU's home opener.

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