OU Football: Ranking the 5 Biggest Games on the 2015 Schedule


Unlike last season, the 2015 OU football schedule does not set up favorably for coach Bob Stoops and the Sooners.

The most difficult part of the schedule for next season clearly is the back half, particularly the final three games of the regular season. Two of those final trio of games are away from home (at Baylor and at Oklahoma State), and the one home game over those final three weeks – hosting TCU – is perhaps the most difficult of all.

That is not to say that the Sooners don’t have their work cut out for them in the opening half of the 2015 schedule. Outside of Texas playing at Notre Dame to open the season, Oklahoma’s game at Tennessee is perhaps the most difficult nonconference game anywhere in the Big 12 next season.

Oct 4, 2014; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Semaje Perine (32) is tackled for a loss by TCU Horned Frogs linebacker Marcus Mallet (54) in the second half at Amon G. Carter Stadium. The Horned frogs beat the Sooners 37-33. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Sooners also must travel to Kansas State in the opening half of the season, which comes immediately after the annual Red River rivalry game in Dallas against the hated Longhorns of Texas. It really doesn’t matter what kind of team either of those two schools field in 2015, you can count on both K-State and Texas playing their best against the Sooners.

As the season draws closer, I will examine every game on the 2015 schedule and offer insights and analysis on what to look for in every Sooner opponent. But for now, here is my assessment of the five biggest games on the OU football schedule next season in ascending order of importance.

5. Texas Longhorns (in Dallas), Oct. 10

Many Sooner fans will tell you that this is by far the biggest game for the Sooners every season, because a win or loss against OU’s biggest rival sets the tone for the rest of the season. The last several years, neither team has been at its best, which takes away from the overall importance of the contest. But I can guarantee you, having been to the last 14 games in this heated rivalry, that neither the players nor the fans will approach this game casually. Neither team wants to lose this game. That’s why you can throw out the rankings and team statistics and discount the oddsmakers’ picks when it comes to the Red River Showdown. Anything typically goes in this one, and that’s what makes it so exciting and potentially season-altering for the losing team.

4. @ Oklahoma State Cowboys, Nov. 28

To be perfectly candid, it would be a gross oversight not to include the annual Bedlam battle with cross-state rival Oklahoma State as one of the five biggest games of the year. If for no other reason, as the final game of the regular season, a victory sends you off to a postseason bowl appearance on a winning note. There is reason to believe that the Sooner’s late-game collapse and overtime loss to the Cowboys in the final game last season had a bearing on the dismal way Oklahoma performed in its bowl game against Clemson. Plus the fact that OU does not want to lose to its in-state Big 12 rival. The outcome of this game goes much further than pride and bragging rights, it affects recruiting and many times has a direct impact on the conference standings and/or the league championship.

3. @ Baylor Bears, Nov. 14

Baylor has humbled the Sooners in two consecutive seasons, winning big in Waco two years ago and completely dismantling OU by 34 points – and at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium – last season before a sellout Sooner crowd. The Bears will have a new quarterback behind center this coming season, but that shouldn’t really make much difference. We’ve seen this act before at Baylor over the past three-to-four seasons, and nothing much changes to slow down the high-scoring Bears’ offense under head coach Art Briles. The fact that the Bears have manhandled the Sooners so easily and in dominating fashion the last two seasons will definitely be in the heads of the OU players. What’s interesting about that is that Baylor had never beaten Oklahoma in football until 2011. The Sooners were 20-0 against the Bears to that point. Since then, OU has lost three of the last four games. How the Sooners do in this game will say a lot about what to expect the following week when OU plays host to TCU.

2. TCU Horned Frogs, Nov. 21

This will be the final home game of the year for Oklahoma. Not that the Sooners will need a Senior Day atmosphere to get up for this game. The Horned Frogs will likely come to Norman in first or second place in the conference standings, and it is highly probable that a conference championship could be on the line in this game. The one difference being that the Sooners will likely be in the spoiler role. If not for its own benefit, Oklahoma will be in a prime position to decide the Big 12 championship, having played 2014 co-champion Baylor the week before this one. This is a huge game for the Sooners because it is being played in Norman, where OU has one of the best home record in college football during the Bob Stoops coaching era. In home games, the Sooners are a dominating 87-5 under Stoops. On the downside, TCU owns one of those five wins (in 2005) and came close to another in their last visit to OU (losing 20-17 in 2013).

1. @ Tennessee Volunteers, Sept. 12

Before anybody out there is ready to fly out of their seat or let out an impulsive shout demanding to know why I could possibly consider this the most important game on the schedule next season, take a deep, slow breath and allow me to offer my thought process for arriving at this conclusion. First of all, this is the second game of the season, and it is on the road in one of the hardest places to play and in front of one of the largest crowds in the SEC, which, need I remind you, is the strongest football conference in the land, at least in the eyes and mouths of everyone who is affiliated with ABC or the ESPN networks. The Sooners beat the Volunteers fairly handily last season in Norman, and you better believe Tennessee is looking to avenge that loss in front of its home fans – for the sake of Volunteer pride and to make a statement on behalf of the SEC. The Tennessee team Oklahoma will face in 2015 is expected to be better than the team the Sooners beat last season. Granted Tennessee is not Alabama or LSU, but it is still a very formidable opponent with talent on both sides of the ball, and playing at home is just an added advantage. How Oklahoma performs in this contest will set the tone for the rest of the season. A big road win here, will give the Sooners a giant lift and a valuable boost of confidence that could make a vital difference in how OU approaches and performs the rest of the season.