OU Football Schedule for 2016 More Balanced, but Equally Tough


The OU football schedule for 2016 is now out. One thing that stands out immediately is that November is not nearly as daunting as this season, but the front end appears to be as difficult as it has ever been.

The Sooners are coming off a nightmare three-game stretch to close out the 2015 regular season that vaulted a one-loss Oklahoma team right into the thick of the College Football Playoff picture, but just as easily could have knocked the Big 12 out of the Playoff for a second straight year.

All of the top teams in the Big 12 went head-to-head in November. Fortunately, OU came out of that gauntlet with three huge wins, all over ranked conference teams. Needless to say, that is as good a resume-builder as one could hope for at this time of the year.

Oct 11, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners team poses with the golden hat trophy after the game against the Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma beat Texas 31-26. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Next season, Oklahoma’s games against TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma State are more spread out in the schedule, plus the games with Baylor and Oklahoma State are in Norman in 2016.

If the College Football Playoff committee is looking more and more at the quality of a team’s nonconference schedule in ranking its overall body of work, they should have no issues the Sooners’ out-of-conference lineup for next season. Oklahoma begins the season away from home against Houston, 11-1 and ranked 17th this week in the AP Top 25 poll.

Two weeks after that Ohio State comes to Norman for the first of a two-year home-and-home series. Until losing to Michigan State two weeks ago, the defending national champion Buckeyes were undefeated and ranked in the top-four nationally. The combined overall record of Houston and Ohio State so far in 2015 is 22-2, with conference championship games and bowl games still to be played.

I would venture to bet that no other team from a Power 5 conference will play as difficult a three-game schedule as Oklahoma to open the season next September. Sandwiched between the games with Houston and Ohio State is a home date with the University of Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 10. The Warhawks, just 1-10 with one game left to play in the 2015 campaign, last played at Oklahoma in 2013, with OU winning 34-0.

The Sooners will open the Big 12 portion of the 2016 schedule on Oct. 1 on the road at TCU. That contest will be followed by a return trip to Texas the following weekend for the annual Red River Showdown in Dallas against the hated Longhorns.

Oklahoma hosts its first conference home game the week following the game with Texas, as Kansas State visits Norman on Oct. 15.

The Sooners will play one game on a Thursday night next season, on Nov. 3 at Iowa State. That will give OU nine days off before it plays Baylor at home on Nov. 12.

OU will have two bye weeks in 2016: The first bye week falls between Ohio State on Sept. 17 and TCU on Oct. 1, and the Sooners will also have an extra week between the game at West Virginia on Nov. 19 and a Dec. 3 home date for Bedlam with Oklahoma State.