The 2023 softball season is over, so all eyes turn to the Oklahoma Sooners football program. It’s a critical season after Oklahoma had its first losing season since 1998. It is also the final season in the Big 12 before the school joins the SEC in 2024.
The Sooners are one of the teams across the country projected to have a bounce-back season. Improving from six to eight or more wins is a reasonable expectation in Year 2 of the Brent Venables era. Oklahoma has a schedule that could thrust it back into the Big 12 title picture. But before we get to conference play, Oklahoma will open the season with a nonconference schedule that The Oklahoman’s Barry Tramel believes is one of the weakest in the Big 12.
In his rankings of each Big 12 program’s 2023 nonconference schedule, the Oklahoma Sooners came in at No. 13.
Arkansas State, Southern Methodist, at Tulsa. The Sooners were scheduled to host Georgia, which would have greatly changed the looks of this trio. But OU settled for SMU, and the schedule is a dud. – Tramel, The Oklahoman
No Georgia on the schedule certainly changes the complexion of the schedule. This trio of teams isn’t going to move the needle in terms of strength of schedule, but that’s mostly out of Oklahoma’s control. When they scheduled the Georgia game years ago, I’m sure nobody could have foreseen Oklahoma and Texas moving to the SEC, which is what necessitated the cancellation.
Joe Castiglione went to work to find a noncon game that could work for Oklahoma. SMU isn’t the biggest threat in the American Athletic Conference, but it is a team that can score in bunches. Oklahoma’s retooled defense will be tested when it faces SMU at home and the following week against Kevin Wilson and Tulsa.
It may not be a nonconference schedule that will rack up strength of schedule points, but it is an opening slate that can help the Sooners get off to a strong start in the 2023 season. Coming off a 6-7 season in 2022, it would be a good sign if the Sooners can start 3-0 heading into their Big 12 opener against Cincinnati.