Oklahoma Sooners moving 2024 season opener to Friday night

The much anticipated move to the SEC will come one day earlier as the University of Oklahoma announced a date change for their week one matchup with the Temple Owls.

Originally slated to play on Saturday August 31, Joe Castiglione announced Oklahoma and ESPN have agreed to play the season opener on Friday night, August 30 at 6 p.m. CT. The game will take place on ESPN.

“We were asked to consider moving up the season opener by a day so ESPN could televise our first game as a member of the SEC in a primetime window,” Castiglione said in a statement released by the Oklahoma Athletic Department. “It’s a unique and exciting opportunity for us, as it will be our first Friday night game in the history of Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and will give our team tremendous visibility nationally. Another major plus is, given the kick time, our players and fans should benefit from a cooler temperature. It’s reasonable to expect that playing in the evening will significantly mitigate some of the heat issues we typically deal with during early season day games. Our first-ever ‘Friday Night Lights’ will undoubtedly be one for the books, and we’re excited to open the season and our first year in the SEC in such a spectacular fashion.”

Oklahoma and its fan base has longed to play more primetime games. Under the Fox grant of rights with the Big 12, the Sooners were relegated to a number of 11 a.m. kickoffs, which was Fox Big Noon Kickoff’s No. 1 playing window.

The move to the SEC created hope that Oklahoma would get more opportunities under the lights at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. And the SEC and ESPN are already delivering on that hope.

While Friday’s have regularly been reserved for high school football, the Sooners week one matchup against Temple in primetime on ESPN will provide Oklahoma a national audience to put on display Jackson Arnold, Danny Stutsman, and the Sooners stars that will lead them into 2024 and their SEC future.

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Heat indices in Norman for OU’s last three season-opening games reached 93 degrees in 2023, 96 degrees in 2022 and 105 degrees in 2021. Three of the last four years have produced a heat index high of at least 98 degrees on Aug. 31 in Norman.

Added Castiglione, “We recognize this schedule change will impact travel plans for some fans. We ask hotels in our area to work closely with those individuals to accommodate the move from a Saturday game to a Friday night contest.”

The Sooners, who will officially join the SEC on July 1, boast a 60-19-2 (.753) record in Friday games (includes a 2-4 record in bowl games) but have only played five Friday evening regular season contests, all on the road and all victories.

Since World War II, Oklahoma has played 16 regular season Friday games and is 10-6 in those outings. Ten of those 16 games, and the Sooners’ only six losses, were against Nebraska. OU beat NU on Fridays in 1973, 1976, 1977 and 1990, and lost to the Huskers in 1982 and every year from 1991-95. The Sooners’ other Friday wins since 1945 were at Detroit in 1947 (Bud Wilkinson’s first game as OU head coach), at Miami (Fla.) in 1975, at Tulsa in 2002 and 2007, at West Virginia in 2018 and vs. TCU in last year’s regular season finale.

Oklahoma, which is starting its third season under head coach Brent Venables, has won 18 straight home openers.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire