College Football 2011: Breaking Down the Oklahoma Sooners' Schedule

Billy RayCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2011

College Football 2011: Breaking Down the Oklahoma Sooners' Schedule

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    As the Big 12 Conference in its former format fades into the sunset, Oklahoma and the other nine conference teams must make adjustments.

    The biggest change will be a round-robin format, where the remaining 10 teams will play each other every year in a 9-game conference schedule.

    NCAA rules limit FBS teams to a total of 12 regular-season games, so this means only three non-conference games for the league's teams from this point forward.

    This may or may not be a good thing depending on your point of view.

    Will this mean less marquee non-conference games featuring Big 12 teams pitted against other top programs across the country?

    It should not matter to the Sooners since they already play one of the toughest schedules in the country every year. The addition of another conference game against a Big 12 member will more than make up for the loss of a non-conference foe in most years.

    What effect will the lack of a title game have on the conference champion when it comes to selecting a BCS representative?

    With Oklahoma expected to start the season at the top of the polls, this is a fact: if they win, they're in.

    While the new alignment means the schedule for next year is not finalized as of yet, the Team in Crimson and Cream does know the identity of each opponent they will face.

    Let's break down these games and have a closer look at the 2011 Oklahoma football season.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    When: 9/3/2011

    Where: Norman, Okla.

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 10-3

    Noteworthy: Landry Jones set the school record with six touchdown passes against Tulsa in a 45-0 OU victory during his freshman year of 2009.

    Tulsa returns top playmakers such as quarterback A.J. Kinne and receiver Damaris Johnson, who should become the all-time NCAA leader for all-purpose yardage, but former head coach Todd Graham is now at Pittsburgh.

    The Golden Hurricane will replace Graham with former player and assistant coach Bill Blankenship, who led them to an Aloha Bowl victory over Hawaii to end the season.  Blankenship was the head coach at Tulsa high school powerhouse Union before jumping into the college ranks.

    Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 15-7-1.

    From the Hip: OU has too much for their scrappy little brothers from the East; OU 45, TU 20.

Florida State Seminoles

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    When: 9/17/2011

    Where: Tallahassee

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 10-4, ACC Atlantic Division Champion

    Noteworthy: Oklahoma pounded the Seminoles 47-17 in Norman in 2010.

    Many Seminoles fans look to the 2001 Orange Bowl loss to Oklahoma as the beginning of the end of the Bobby Bowden dynasty at FSU.

    Since the end of the 2000 season, Florida State has not finished in the top 10 after an astounding run of 13 straight years in which they finished ranked as one of the top four teams in the country.

    Despite being 10.5-point favorites and the defending national champs, the Seminoles were dominated by the Sooners' defense as Oklahoma captured their first national title in 15 years.

    Jimbo Fisher took over for Bowden last year, and with the help of DC Mark Stoops, Bob's youngest brother, Fisher turned the Seminoles back into ACC contenders in his first season.

    The Seminoles are coming off a big victory over SEC East champ South Carolina in the Chick Fil-a Bowl and nabbed one of the best recruiting classes in the country for 2011.

    Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 4-1.

    From the Hip: This looks to be one of the toughest tests for OU in 2011, and Sooners fans should not expect their team to dominate in Florida the way they did in Memorial Stadium; OU 30, FSU 21.

Missouri Tigers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    When: TBD (most likely dates are 9/10, 9/24 and the beginning of December)

    Where: Norman, Okla.

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 10-3

    Noteworthy: The exact date for this game has not been set as the conference puts together the new round-robin schedule.

    Missouri defeated Oklahoma in Columbia last year 36-27 for Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel's first victory over Oklahoma and Bob Stoops.

    Former Tigers QB Blaine Gabbert is expected to be among the first quarterbacks chosen in this year's NFL Draft, and replacing him is a high priority for Missouri.

    Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 66-24-5.

    From the Hip: With the lack of experience behind center and the fact the game is in Norman, the 2011 contest should be completely different from last year's game; OU 38, MU 17.

Ball State Cardinals

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When: 10/1/2011

    Where: Norman, Okla.

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 4-8

    Noteworthy: This will be the first-ever meeting between Ball State and Oklahoma. Ball State won only four games in 2010, and they will not improve on that win total at the expense of the Sooners.

    From the Hip: BLOWOUT; OU 52, Ball State 7.

Red River Rivalry

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    When: 10/8/2011

    Where: Cotton Bowl, Dallas

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 5-7

    Noteworthy: Texas will be slinking into 2011 on the heals of Mack Brown's worst season in Austin. QB Garret Gilbert threw only 10 TD passes, as opposed to 17 interceptions.

    Texas has two new coordinators and has added other new assistant coaches in the offseason after last year's meltdown.

    Texas went from a national title game appearance in 2009, to missing bowl season in 2010. Oklahoma broke a two-game losing streak to the Longhorns with a 28-20 victory in last year's Red River Rivalry.

    Bob Stoops has a record of 7-5 against Mack Brown and the 'Burned' Orange.

    Texas leads the all-time series, 59-41-5.

    From the Hip: Close, hard-fought game (as always) with OU having too much talent and depth in the end; OU 35, TX 21.

Kansas Jayhawks

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    When: 10/15/2011

    Where: Lawrence, Kan.

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 3-9

    Noteworthy: OU defeated Kansas 35-13 in Lawrence in 2009 for the Sooners' only true road victory of the year.

    Former Nebraska All-American QB and current Jayhawks coach Turner Gill had a rough first season last year in Lawrence, losing his first game against North Dakota State in a shootout, 6-3.

    Outside of an unexpected home victory over Georgia Tech and a comeback win over Colorado, Jayhawks fans spent the fall counting down the days until basketball season started.

    OU leads the all-time series 68-27-6 and has not lost to Kansas since Bob Stoops took over the coaching reigns in 1999.

    From the Hip: Kansas should show improvement in Gill's second season, but not enough to knock off the Sooners; OU 50, KU 10.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    When: 10/22/2011

    Where: Norman, Okla.

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 8-5

    Noteworthy: Because of a quirky rescheduling situation, Tech travels to Norman for the second year in a row where OU prevailed 45-7 in 2010.

    Tommy Tuberville came to Lubbock last year after former coach Mike Leach was let go in a drama-filled action that will not seem to die.

    Tuberville's team played fairly well, but did not match the expectations that Leach claimed he had for the team entering the season. Now the Red Raiders must replace their co-starting QB's and may have to rely on a defense that underperformed last season.

    OU leads the all-time series, 13-5.

    From the Hip: Tech rarely keeps it close in Norman, and this game will be no exception; OU 48, TTech 10.

Kansas State Wildcats

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    When: 10/29/2011

    Where: Manhattan, Kan.

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 7-6

    Noteworthy: This is the second go-round for Wildcats coach Bill Snyder. After retiring as the school's all-time winningest coach and the man who took the worst program in the country to a Big 12 championship, not to mention the brink of a national title appearance, the future Hall-of-Fame coach has his work cut out for him in Manhattan.

    Recruits have short memories, and the days of 10-11 win seasons are ancient history for today's recruits.

    Leading rusher and top NFL prospect Darren Thomas is gone, and the defense is unreliable, to say the least.

    OU leads the all-time series, 68-27-6.

    From the Hip: Stoops was mentored by Snyder but the pupil is now the master. KSU does not have the horses to hang with the Sooner Schooner, despite the game being played in Kansas; OU 35, KSU 13.

Texas A&M Aggies

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    When: 11/5/2011

    Where: Norman, Okla.

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 9-4

    Noteworthy: Texas A&M defeated the Sooners in College Station last year by the score of 33-19.

    Aggies coach Mike Sherman cooled his hot seat last season when he benched his preseason all-Big 12 QB and gave receiver Ryan Tannehill the ball. Tannehill responded by leading the team to six straight victories before a loss to LSU in the Cotton Bowl.

    TAMU beat both Big 12 title participants from last year, also defeating Nebraska 9-6.

    OU leads the all-time series, 18-11.

    From the Hip: Though A&M will be even better than last year, so will the Sooners. The game is in Norman where Stoops has only lost twice; OU 34, TAMU 24.

Iowa State Cyclones

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    When: 11/12/2011

    Where: Norman, Okla.

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 5-7

    Noteworthy: Oklahoma won 52-0 in Norman last year.

    Unable to build on the momentum of winning in Austin for the first time, Iowa State finished last season on a three-game losing streak to miss a second consecutive bowl invitation.

    ISU lost both their starting QB and running back, and may be forced to rely on a defense that does not have the athletes to compete against top offenses.

    OU leads the all-time series, 68-5-2.

    From the Hip: In Norman, in Ames, it doesn't matter, Oklahoma would have to miss the bus to the stadium to lose this game; OU 44, ISU 6.

Baylor Bears

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    When: 11/19/2011

    Where: Waco, Texas

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 7-6

    Noteworthy: OU won in Waco last year, 53-24.

    After getting on the radar with a 7-2 start, the Bears finished the year on a four-game losing streak. Despite this, Baylor made a bowl game for the first time since the early 1990's.

    OU has never lost to Baylor and leads the all-time series, 20-0.

    From the Hip: Robert Griffin is one of the top playmakers in football, but all too often he must do too much on his own. Expect a closer game than last year, but OU pulls away in the second half; OU 48, BU 24.

Bedlam

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    When: 11/26/2011

    Where: Stillwater, Okla.

    Time: TBD

    Opponent's 2010 Record: 11-2

    Noteworthy: OU plays the second of two straight games against the Cowboys in Stillwater where they won last year in a wild 48-42 shootout. There were four TD's scored in the last five minutes of the game.

    Oklahoma State had their best record ever last year with 11 victories and return the bulk of a team that will be contending for the conference title throughout the season.

    QB Brandon Weeden was an all-Big 12 selection last year and All-American receiver Justin Blackmon led the nation in receiving yards and touchdowns.

    OU leads the all-time series, 82-16-7.

    From the Hip: Winning once in Stillwater is tough enough, and the league did the Sooners no favors by sending them to Boone Pickens Stadium for a second straight year. However, while OSU may be due for a victory over big brother, they are one of the most snake-bitten programs in the country.

    OU has their number; OU 35, OSU 27.