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Strength of schedule carries the day for Sooners

By Berry Tramel Published: December 1, 2008
University of Texas football’s scheduling philosophy has changed in recent years. The Longhorns no longer always desire at least one marquee non-conference opponent.

This year, Texas played Arkansas, Rice, Texas-El Paso and Florida Atlantic. That quartet cost the Longhorns.

OU surged past Texas in the BCS rankings Sunday to secure a berth in the Big 12 championship game, and the computer rankings lifted the Sooners. OU’s non-conference schedule included victories over top-15 teams Cincinnati and TCU.

OU coach Bob Stoops has complained that strength of schedule doesn’t seem to matter anymore in college football. But on this day, it did.

“The schedule overall made a difference,” Stoops said. “I’ve argued that strength-of-schedule should make a difference.”

Stoops said pollsters generally pay attention to strength of schedule early, “then everyone forgets about it at the end of the year.

“I feel glad we did play those teams. There’s a heck of a lot more teams I’d rather play than Cincinnati and TCU.

“For people to continue to play out-of-conference games people want to watch, there’s got to be incentive to do that.”

The Sooners are committed. In the coming seasons, they have contracts for home-and-home series with Florida State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU and Tennessee.

Texas’ most marquee future opponents scheduled are UCLA and Mississippi.

Next season, OU has two non-conference opponents scheduled: Miami and Tulsa.

Texas’ four non-conference games in 2009: Wyoming, Central Florida, Texas-El Paso and Louisiana-Monroe.

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