After a scintillating end to the 2020 season, the Sooners are preparing for a possible championship run in 2021. Oklahoma returns key pieces on both sides of the ball and was able to replace key pieces through recruiting and the transfer portal. Five key additions will at the least provide depth at key areas. However, to compete for a national championship a few breaks need to come your way. Part of those breaks typically ends up with a beneficial schedule. Today, we’ll take a look as we look at the Oklahoma Sooners 2021 schedule highlights.
For now, we’ll operate under the assumption that there will be a 2021 non-conference season. The Sooners have been very consistent with how they’ve set up their non-conference schedule. The idea has been to schedule one FCS opponent, one middle-tier opponent, and one traditional power or blue-blood. It just so happens that has worked out to Oklahoma’s advantage this year.
The Sooners will open the season on the road on September 4th in New Orleans as they face Tulane. The Green Wave have had three straight winning seasons which has culminated in bowl appearances. The spread option that Tulane deploys on offense is tough to prepare for so that in itself is beneficial to have spring and fall camp to prepare for. FCS Western Carolina will visit Norman on September 11th. The Catamounts went 0-3 in the abbreviated 2020 slate in dropping decisions to Liberty, Eastern Kentucky, and North Carolina. Then, Oklahoma will conclude the non-conference schedule by hosting a familiar foe in the Nebraska Cornhuskers. 2021 will be the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century won by Nebraska, 35-31. However, Nebraska has struggled to get back to nation relevancy over the past few years.
October 2nd at Kansas State
Surprisingly, no other team in the Big 12 has handled Oklahoma as well as Kansas State. That’s especially true over the last couple of years. Last year the Wildcats likely kept the Sooners out of the College Football Playoffs with a 38-35 win in Norman. Oklahoma should be circling that game on the calendar as perhaps their most motivating game of the 2021 slate.
October 9th vs Texas (in Dallas, Texas)
The annual Red River Shootout is typically the biggest game on both teams’ schedules. However, it will be hard to duplicate the 53-45 four-overtime thriller of 2020. The Longhorns have plenty of momentum winning five of six to end 2020 and the infusion of energy from the Steve Sarkisian hire. If Texas can get by Louisiana, Arkansas, and TCU before October 9th this could be a top-five matchup.
November 20th vs Iowa State
On paper, this will be a matchup of the two best teams in the league. However, the Big 12 will either look great in scheduling this game so late in the year or look bad as the game could lose some of its luster. Be that as it may, Iowa State returns almost everyone on offense and should be able to score with anyone in the country. If they are able to retool their defense, this could be another classic game.
November 27th at Oklahoma State
The Bedlam Series renews in 2021 around the Thanksgiving holiday. The same could be said for the Cowboys in terms of where their team is at heading into this game. Oklahoma State has a tough non-conference game against Boise State and October is not kind as they travel to Texas, Iowa State, and West Virginia all within that month. This game could serve as a spoiler spot for Oklahoma State or a potential for championship game preview.
The Oklahoma Sooners 2021 schedule sets up for challenges throughout the season, but it’s about as evenly distributed as you would like to see. The two obvious toughest stretches are October 2nd and October 9th against Kansas State and Texas with November 20th and 27th being the other difficult stretch with Iowa State and Oklahoma State. The schedule lightens up nicely from October 16th – November 13th. The Sooners will host TCU on October 16th, travel to Kansas on October 23rd, and host Texas Tech on October 30th before a bye week on November 6th.