Where does 2024 Oklahoma football schedule rank among nation's most difficult?

Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content

Phil Steele, in his eponymous College Football Preview magazine, ranked the 2023 Oklahoma Sooner football schedule as the 49th most difficult among teams at the FBS level. That was as a member of the Big 12.

The Sooners will become a member of the SEC next season, which we all know brings with it a significant upgrade in terms of the quality of the competition.

Because the SEC is considered the best conference in college football -- winning six of the last 10 national championships and making 12 appearances in the College Football Playoff era -- it stands to reason that teams playing in the SEC would be among those with the most difficult schedules every season. That is the world Oklahoma has elected to join and compete in beginning next season, and as a welcoming gift, the Sooners have been awarded one of that conference's hardest schedules for the 2024 season.

Six SEC teams were ranked in the final Associated Press Top 25 rankings for the 2023 season. If you include Oklahoma and Texas, that number grows to eight. The Sooners play six of the eight next season. The 2024 OU schedule includes home games with Alabama, and Tennessee, road games at Auburn, Ole Miss, Missouri and LSU and the annual Red River Rivalry game with Texas in Dallas.

South Carolina is the only conference team the Sooners play next season (in Norman) that was not ranked at the end of last season. For what it's worth, Oklahoma avoids Georgia next season, which is probably sole consolation given the other top teams the Sooners must go up against this fall.

According to College Sports Wire, a website affiliated with USA Today, among the 16 SEC teams, only Florida has a harder schedule next season than Oklahoma.

On a national basis, Fan Nation's College Football HQ website, affiliated with Sports Illustrated, has ranked the Sooners as the third most difficult schedule next season behind No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Arkansas. Other SEC teams listed in the top 10 are No. 4 South Carolina, No. 5 Mississippi State, No. 6 Georgia and No. 8 Vanderbilt.

ESPN SP+ (subscription only) has also ranked the FBS teams with the most difficult 2024 schedules. Oklahoma comes up No. 7 on that list.

247Sports has also weighed in on the subject. The Sooners sit in the No. 2 position behind No. 1 Florida, according to the college football staff at 247Sports, as the two teams with the hardest 2024 schedules.

With the schedule that SEC newcomer Oklahoma is having to navigate through next college football season, it's not difficult to understand why a number of media outlets and several national betting sites are projected 7.5 wins for the Sooners. That is a highly atypical number for an OU football team but so is the level of competition the Sooners will face once they begin the SEC portion of the schedule.