Oklahoma football: Sooners' 2024 SEC schedule sets up big finish

A general view of the SEC logo prior to the game against between Georgia and Alabama.
A general view of the SEC logo prior to the game against between Georgia and Alabama. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this year we learned which SEC teams would appear on the 2024 Oklahoma football schedule in the Sooners' debut season in their new conference.

We knew that the Sooners would host Tennessee, South Carolina and Alabama in Norman and go on the road to play Auburn, Ole Miss, Missouri and LSU. A daunting conference schedule to say the least. Texas (3), Alabama (4), Missouri (9), Ole Miss (11), LSU (13) and Tennessee (21) were all ranked in the final College Football Playoff rankings for 2023.

Oklahoma and Texas will also face each other in the annual Red River Rivalry game in Dallas on the traditional second weekend in October.

The Sooners will not leave Norman until the very end of November, opening the season with four consecutive home games. That will give new starting quarterback Jackson Arnold four games in which to get comfortable and build his confidence before having to go on the road to play Auburn on Sept. 28.

OU opens the season on Aug. 31 against Temple. It will be only the third game all-time between the two schools and the first since 1942. The two teams split the two previous games, each winning on their home field. Houston, the only one of the four new Big 12 teams this season the Sooners did not play in 2023, follows the Temple Owls into Norman on Sept. 7.

Oklahoma will host Tulane on Sept. 14. The Green Wave were No. 22 until the final week of the 2023 CFP rankings, when they dropped out after losing the American Athletic Association championship game. OU and Tulane played in Norman in 2021, with the Sooner eking out a 40-35 win.

The month-long homestand at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium comes to a close on Sept. 21 with Oklahoma facing Tennessee in its SEC conference opener. This contest will feature the homecoming of Volunteers' head coach Josh Heupel, who quarterbacked OU in its 2000 national championship season and later became offensive coordinator on Bob Stoops' coaching staff.

The Sooners hit the road for the first time in 2024 traveling to Auburn on Sept. 28. Texas follows on Oct. 12. OU is back home on Oct. 19 to host South Carolina. While the Sooners and Gamecocks have never played each other, there is a connection between the two teams. South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer was an offensive assistant on Stoops' staff from 2018 to 2020. Former OU quarterback Spencer Rattler and tight end Austin Stogner followed Beamer to South Carolina when Beamer became head coach.

The back half of the 2024 Oklahoma schedule sets up a very difficult finishing run. The Sooners travel to Oxford, Mississippi, on Oct. 26. The Sooners and Rebel have played just once before. Ole Miss won 27-25 in the 1999 Independence Bowl in Stoops' first season as head coach. Oklhaom would not lose another game until the 2001 season.

OU hosts nonconference opponent Maine on Nov. 2 and finishes up the season against old Big 12 foe Missouri (there) on Nov. 9, at home against Alabama on Nov. 23 and ends the regular season at LSU on Nov. 30. The Sooners actually have a winning record against Alabama (3-2-1). LSU owns a 2-1 record against Oklahoma, but this will be the first game played on either campus.

The SEC is discontinuing the divisional conference format in football in the 2024 season. The SEC Championship will be decided between the top two teams in the conference standings.

Any way you slice it, the Sooners have one of the more difficult 2024 schedules of the 16 SEC teams. All 16 teams play at least two teams among the five considered to have the strongest national brands. That group consists of Georgia, Alabama, LSU and the two new additions, Oklahoma and Texas.

Half of the conference (8 teams) play at least three of the five teams next season. The other half has just two games scheduled. Unfortunately, Oklahoma is in the former group. Georgia, Alabama and LSU are in the latter group.

So much for a warm welcome to the SEC.