Oklahoma Football 2012 Schedule: 5 Opponents That Could Topple the Sooners
The Oklahoma Sooners will face several competitive opponents again in the new-look Big 12 in 2012. Matchups with TCU, West Virginia (hopefully) and Notre Dame should be entertaining. Just in case they aren't, Sooner fans can look forward to tussles with Big 12 standbys Texas and Kansas State.
Like most recent seasons, 2012 has the potential to be a big year for Bob Stoops and Co. However, the Sooners will not accomplish anything without earning it, as they face several teams that could easily derail the Crimson and Cream.
So, which games should you circle on the schedule? Here are five teams that could have the last laugh against the Sooners in the regular season in 2012.
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This game should tell us if Notre Dame is a legitimate contender. Brian Kelly is doing good things for the Irish, and if his team beats the Sooners in Norman, Notre Dame can be considered "back."
It will be very intriguing to see if incoming freshman Gunner Kiel, the top quarterback according to Scout, beats out Tommy Rees for the starting role. Whoever ultimately lines up under center will be aided by an experienced offensive line and a go-to tight end in Tyler Eifert.
Notre Dame will have a seasoned defense as well, highlighted by junior linebacker Manti Te'o.
Fans of these two traditional powers will be excited to see them meet for the first time since 1999. The Sooners should have the edge with the game in Norman, but don't underestimate the luck of the Irish.
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The Sooners' inaugural conference bout with the Horned Frogs should be interesting. The teams will face off at the newly-renovated Amon G. Carter stadium in Fort Worth, and all signs point to this being a great game.
TCU went 11-2 in 2011 under the direction of sophomore quarterback Casey Pachall, who threw for 2,921 yards and 25 touchdowns. Aside from some losses on the offensive line, most of the offensive starters are retained.
Defensively, the loss of linebacker Tank Carder will hurt, but almost everyone else returns, meaning there will be continuity for the nation's 39th overall defense last season.
If the Sooners play to their potential, they should be able to win this one, but don't underestimate Gary Patterson's bunch; the contest will mark the beginning of what could develop into a compelling rivalry between the two programs.
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Assuming West Virginia does indeed join the Big 12 in 2012, they will be serious contenders to capture the conference crown.
The Mountaineers are coming off four straight wins, the last one a 70-33 thumping of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Quarterback Geno Smith returns, along with Tavon Austin and the second and third leading receivers from an offense that generated 346.8 passing yards per game in 2011.
Additionally, WVU will have the pleasure of facing the Sooners on the familiar surface of Mountaineer Field.
If the defenses don't deliver, this game could wind up being a shootout.
Regardless of each team's record, this game is up for grabs on a yearly basis. And after two straight losses to Oklahoma, the last one a 55-17 trouncing, the Longhorns are hungry to reclaim the Golden Hat.
UT's Holiday Bowl win over California was huge for confidence and momentum, and the Longhorns should continue to improve in 2012. David Ash and Case McCoy will mature along with the rest of a team that is full of youth.
Again, OU seems to have the edge, but once foot meets ball for the kickoff in Dallas, all bets are off.
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Simply having Collin Klein and Bill Snyder for another season gives the Wildcats a good chance to be successful.
The 6'5" Loveland, Colorado, native accounted for 3,059 yards and 40 touchdowns in 2011, and expect him to tear it up again next season. He will be supported by tailback John Hubert and receivers Chris Harper and Tyler Lockett.
K-State's defense, which surrendered 58 points to OU last season and looked inept at times, is still capable. Linebacker Arthur Brown, who led the team in tackles last season, returns, along with the ball-hawking Nigel Malone, who picked off seven passes last season.
Although they were embarrassed last season by the Sooners, the Wildcats will give OU all it can handle in 2012. A K-State victory in Norman is a definite possibility.