The Sooners’ non-conference slate last season, including key contests against Cincinnati and TCU, was one of the biggest deciding factors in OU making the Big 12 Championship over Texas and Texas Tech and ultimately winning it and advancing to the National Championship game against Florida.
This year, the opportunity is there once again for some nonconference games that will benefit the Sooners’ strength of schedule.
Here’s a brief look at the 2009 contests and the key storylines that run with them.
September 5–vs. BYU in Arlington:
The Sooners could potentially play two games at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas in 2009. That’s because OU will now open up its 2009 season in the new stadium against the Brigham Young University Cougars, who finished third in the Mountain West Conference this season. BYU is coming off a 10-3 season but lost its last two after starting off the season 6-0. The other game in Arlington OU could play in is the Big 12 Championship.
September 12-@ Miami:
The contest with BYU backs up the date originally thought to be the time when OU would meet Miami. The Sooners are set to travel back to the city where they lost the National Championship to take on Miami as part of a home-home deal the two programs began in 2007. OU destroyed the Hurricanes 51-13 in Norman in that contest to even the all-time series to 3-3. Miami is trying to get back to its national prominence of the 1990s and early 2000s, as it comes off a 7-6 campaign and a loss in the Emerald Bowl against Cal.
Vs. Tulsa (TBA):
In OU’s third non-conference game, it is set to face in-state foe Tulsa at a date to be scheduled later. The Sooners and Golden Hurricane also hooked up in 2007, and OU destroyed them 62-21. The Hurricane will lose starting quarterback David Johnson, who threw for more than 4,059 yards and 46 touchdowns last season, four less TD’s than OU sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford. Tulsa rolled to an 11-3 record after beating Ball State in the GMAC Bowl, despite losing to East Carolina in their conference championship game.
October 10–vs. Baylor:
In a game that annually could be a trap for the Sooners, they take on the Baylor Bears before the Red River Rivalry game. Baylor brings back quarterback Robert Griffin for his second season in Waco. He threw for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns and only three interceptions in 2008 and didn’t throw an interception until the ninth game of the season against Missouri. OU will have to control a big and athletic quarterback that was fairly efficient for the most part last season. Last meeting: OU 49, Baylor 17
October 17–vs. Texas in Dallas:
OU will try to bounce back from last year’s loss to the Longhorns after dominating for most of the game. Texas will bring back senior quarterback Colt McCoy and senior wide receiver Jordan Shipley, a combo that was deadly against the Sooners in 2008. But the Longhorns lose a couple key players, including running back Chris Ogbonnaya and defensive end Brian Orakpo. That should even out the Sooners’ loss of senior wide receivers Manuel Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias, as well as a few on the offensive line. Last meeting: Texas 45, OU 35
October 24–@ Kansas:
The potential is there for a trap game on the other side of the Red River Rivalry game when the Sooners travel to Lawrence. The Jayhawks will feature senior quarterback Todd Reesing, junior wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, who scorched the Sooners for 269 receiving yards and two touchdowns last year, and senior running back Jake Sharp. The Jayhawks are riding a two-game winning streak into next season. Last meeting: OU 45, Kansas 31.
October 31–vs. Kansas State:
In KSU head coach Bill Snyder’s return to the Big 12 Conference, he makes his first return trip to Norman on Halloween. The Sooners are 6-1 in the last seven contests against the Wildcats, with the lone loss coming in the 2003 Big 12 Championship Game in Kansas City. OU racked up a school record 55 points in the first half in its game in Manhattan against the Wildcats last season. The Wildcats put up a fight offensively and must do so again to have a chance to win in Norman, as they will be searching for a starting quarterback after the loss of senior Josh Freeman. Last meeting: OU 58, Kansas State 35
November 7–@ Nebraska:
The Sooners will stick to road games in the Big 12 North when they take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln in late October. The Cornhuskers should be an intriguing team in 2009 with the loss of quarterback Joe Ganz, who led Nebraska to a 26-21 come-from-behind victory in the Gator Bowl against Clemson. Will the Huskers be able to ride the wave of momentum following a four-game winning streak at the end of last season in order to bring back this historic rivalry? OU has owned the last four contests and hasn’t lost since 2001 to the Cornhuskers. Last meeting: OU 62, Nebraska 28
November 14–vs. Texas A&M:
Junior quarterback Jerrod Johnson makes his first start in Norman against the Sooners. The Sooners have won six in a row against the Aggies, and Texas A&M has only beat the Sooners once this decade. That lone win was a 30-26 victory in College Station back in 2002. In fact, in the last two contests against the Aggies, OU has a combined average margin of victory of 33 points. Texas A&M will have to put up some points to quiet the crowd early, or it could be another rout similar to the 77-0 beating OU delivered them in 2003. Last meeting: OU 66, Texas A&M 28
November 21–@ Texas Tech:
The Sooners will then travel to a place that has been brutal to them lately. OU has lost two contests in a row in Lubbock, a 2005 game that ended with a controversial Tech touchdown and a 2007 contest in which quarterback Sam Bradford suffered an early concussion and sat the rest of the game. But the Red Raiders will be without quarterback Graham Harrell, who graduates, and star wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who left for the NFL draft. Bradford and the Sooners will try to end that two-game losing streak in Lubbock. Last meeting: OU 65, Texas Tech 21
November 28–vs. Oklahoma State:
Bedlam bounces back to Norman when the Sooners host the Cowboys on the last weekend in November. This could be a top 10 contest when the two meet late in the year. The Cowboys will feature senior quarterback Zac Robinson and junior wide receiver Dez Bryant, one of next year’s deadly quarterback-receiver combos. The Sooners have also won six in a row in this series, similar to the OU-A&M series, but they will have their work cut out in a difficult contest. Last meeting: OU 61, Oklahoma State 41