2010 looks to be a year of reemergence for Oklahoma after a disappointing 2009 season filled with injuries and inconsistency.
The Sooners schedule includes the usual Big 12 South games along with Colorado, Iowa State and Missouri from the North. In non conference, the Sooners get Florida State, Utah State and Air Force at home and travel Cincinnati.
Here's a quick look at the Sooners 2010 opponents and what to expect.
Note: The order of non conference games has not been set yet. The order of the first four slides is subject to change. The conference order is correct.
Not much explanation needed for this one. Utah State went 4-8 in 2009, but was competitive in games against Utah, BYU and Texas A&M. However, this game will be played in Norman at Owen Field where the Sooners have won 30 straight.
The Bobby Bowden Era is over at Florida State and it's Jimbo Fisher's time. What a great way to start. A trip to Norman to face the Sooners. The Seminoles finished 2009 with a huge upset win over West Virgina in the Gator Bowl to send Bowden off in style. They will be looking to establish some consistency, something that was nonexistent for them this past season. This game provides another great test for the Sooners as Florida State is always loaded with great athletes. Oklahoma will definitely benefit from playing it in Norman.
The Air Force Academy brings its run heavy offense to Norman in 2010. The Falcons are coming off an eight win campaign that culminated with a bowl blowout of Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Falcons return the majority of their skill position players on offense and several key players from the nation's #1 pass defense in 2009. This will be a big test for the Sooners at home.
Cincinnati comes into 2010 on the most successful streak in school history. The Bearcats have gone to back to back BCS bowl games, but lost both of them. The Bearcats are now under former Central Michigan head coach Butch Jones who replaces Brian Kelly. Cincinnati is solid at quarterback with Zach Collaros but will miss all everything receiver Mardy Gilyard. The defense also needs to improve from last year's homestretch collapse. It will be interesting to see how the Bearcats fare in their first year under Jones.
This game is play at Cincinnati and will be the Sooners first road game of the year. Oklahoma will be looking for something to prove after going 2-5 away from Norman last season.
Texas. Oklahoma. The Texas State Fair. The Cotton Bowl. Not much else needs to be said about this game. Oklahoma is tired of losing to Texas and while it's not gonna cause Bob Stoops to lose his job, a win would be really beneficial. Texas has won four of the past five meetings after the Sooners dominated the early part of the decade, winning five straight. The Red River Rivalry is always a high emotion, high energy game and 2010 will be no different.
Iowa State was the surprise of the Big 12 last season winning seven games and a bowl game. The biggest win of the year easily was their stunning road victory against Nebraska in Lincoln. Many of you may recall Paul Rhodes now famous locker room post game speech. He'll be proud of his Cyclones again if they can beat the Sooners in Norman. However, Oklahoma has a bye week before this one and will not be overlooking anyone.
Missouri had a successful 2009 campaign, going 8-5 on the year. The Tigers dropped off slightly from a very successful run under former quarterback Chase Daniel, but maintained a high level of achievement under quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert returns along with running back Derrick Washington. However the Tigers also lose possibly their best player on each side of the ball in wide receiver Danario Alexander and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Replacing both will be a key.
This is the first Big 12 road game for the Sooners and as any conference game is, it will be a test.
The Buffaloes struggled last year in route to a 3-9 season. The main issue for coach Dan Hawkins has been the quarterback position, where his son Cody has struggled, prompting Hawkins to insert Tyler Hansen as the starter. It will be interesting to see how the Buffs improve in 2010 and more importantly, who will be lining up under center and will the improvement be enough for Hawkins to keep his job? Colorado was competitive in many games early last year, including Texas in Austin, but won't be in Norman.
The 12th Man of Kyle Field awaits the Sooners in 2010. The Aggies had a very up and down year in 2009, finishing 6-7. There were many bright spots such as the emergence of Jerrod Johnson and Christine Michael. There were also many sore spots, particularly the entire defense except for Von Miller. If the Aggies can improve their defense, they will be a much improved team and could go far. The Sooners rolled over A&M in 2008 at Kyle Field, but it's always a tough place to play and the 12th Man is always loud.
Texas Tech has had a rough couple of months. Controversy reigns supreme with the Mike Leach/Adam James scenario. The Red Raiders will need to put that behind them if they hope to be successful in 2010. New coach Tommy Tuberville has a lot on his hands to keep a program afloat that was in the middle of its more successful stretch in school history. Tuberville says he plans to keep the Air Raid offense which makes Texas Tech no less potent offensively. The Sooners hope to duplicate the result they got the last time the Red Raiders came to Norman: a 65-21 stomping that crushed Tech's national title and conference title chances and propelled the Sooners to the national championship.
Baylor's 2009 was basically over the moment that the face of the program, quarterback Robert Griffin, went down for the year with an ACL injury. Griffin is back along with an extra year of eligibility, giving him three more years under center for the Bears. The Bears must replace several key players on defense including linebacker Joe Pawelek and safety Jordan Lake. The offense must replace a couple of offensive lineman. However, Baylor has several talented players and could make some noise in their attempt to get to a bowl game for the first time in 16 years. The Sooners shouldn't overlook Baylor, especially on the road, but Floyd Casey Stadium isn't exactly the most intimidating of venues.
Oklahoma State ended a great 2009 in horrible fashion, getting shut out by Oklahoma in their annual Bedlam matchup and then just playing atrociously against Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys are losing a lot from that team on both sides of the ball and really need a lot of young players to step up and perform. If that doesn't happen, the Cowboys could be in for a long season. Bedlam always brings out the best of both the Sooners and the Cowboys, so regardless of records, this game is going to be intense.