Senior defensive end Jeremy Beal said that's one benefit to playing Florida State, Cincinnati and Air Force.
"You don't get any better if you play a cupcake schedule," Beal said. "If you play a tough nonconference, it gets you ready for the Big 12. If you win a close game in nonconference, you have that experience if you pulled one out."
This season, OU's conference opener is Texas. Some argue playing four games against overmatched opponents might not be the ideal way to prepare for the Red River Rivalry.
"Exactly," said middle linebacker Tom Wort. "We'll know how good we are going into the Texas game. I wouldn't have it any other way, knowing whoever wins that game has a leg up on winning the Big 12."
Stoops agrees that tougher nonconference opponents reveal areas that need work.
"I don't know how much it benefits you," Stoops said. "If you don't get anyone hurt, it does. If you don't get anyone hurt and you win, it definitely benefits you."
In addition to the upcoming Notre Dame series, OU has home-and-home series with Tennessee in 2014-15 and Ohio State in 2016-17.
Would Stoops like to follow other programs' approach and eliminate high-risk, low-reward nonconference games?
"I'd like to, but our schedule is made out pretty far in advance," Stoops said. "I think the next football coach here might have a better chance than me."Tramel: Bob Stoops misguided on scheduling