Ranking future SEC opponents by most intriguing matchups

·9 min read

On Thursday it all came to a head as expected, the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns were both given an invitation. The SEC presidents voted 14-0 in favor of the top two schools in the Big 12 coming over in 2025.

While no one expects it to take that long, the worst-case scenario would be for OU to join in time for the 2025 season. On Friday, they are expected to officially accept the invitation. The Oklahoma Board of Regents will make that decision during their meeting.

With that much behind us, there is the subject of SEC football to discuss. Thoughts of future matchups are already on the mind of many. What games will stand out? The return of Missouri-Oklahoma is on that list. Perhaps a return series for Oklahoma against Texas A&M?

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John Williams ranks the most intriguing matchups in the SEC for the Oklahoma Sooners.

Alabama Crimson Tide

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No team has been more successful than the Alabama Crimson Tide in the last 15 years. They've won the SEC seven times in the last 12 years. Nick Saban's crew has won six national championships in that same time span. And they don't look like they'll be slowing down anytime soon. As the great Ric Flair said, "to be the best, you have to beat the best." While teams like Ohio State, Clemson, LSU, Florida State, and Auburn have had their moments during Bama's run, there's no arguing who's been the best. Home and home series with Alabama will be fantastic television and will provide some incredible atmospheres. If the Sooners want to be at the top of the national championship landscape, they'll have to find a way to overcome the mammoth obstacle that is the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Texas Longhorns

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Though they'll be playing in a new conference with new foes, the Red River Rivalry will stay one of the most important games on their schedule every season. Oklahoma has won six of the last eight matchups, but the Longhorns have been a thorn in the side of the Sooners. Only one of those wins has been by more than seven points in the last eight years. They'll likely land in the same division or pod in the new SEC and how this game goes will have a huge impact on the Sooners ability to contend in the SEC.

Tennessee Volunteers

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The Tennessee Volunteers haven't been great in recent seasons. A team with a rich history that was successful in the 1990s, they've struggled to find the same consistency that they had during the Phillip Fulmer years. They're a long time removed from the Peyton Manning and Tee Martin days of making the Volunteers a contender. The thing that makes this game so intriguing is the guy that will be standing on the opposite sideline from Lincoln Riley; Josh Heupel. It's well-known the contentious relationship that the University of Oklahoma and new Tennessee Head Coach Josh Heupel have since Heupel was fired in favor of Riley after the 2014 season which saw them go 8-5. Heupel was supposed to be the guy that took over for Bob Stoops whenever his time came to an end, but inconsistencies at quarterback led to inefficient offenses. When the Sooners and the Volunteers meet up for the first time as conference rivals, there will be some extra heat in this game with Heupel on the opposite sideline.

Georgia Bulldogs

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The last time these two teams met was a tale of two halves. The Oklahoma Sooners put themselves in a great position to win the 2018 Rose Bowl with a fantastic first half. The second was a different story as the Sooners let the game slip away from them before losing in overtime. The close finish to that one left Sooners fans wondering "what if?" That was their best opportunity to reach the college football playoff championship game in the current format's existence and it slipped away.

LSU Tigers

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When these two last met in the 2019 Peach Bowl, the nation was witness to one of the most impressive offensive efforts in the history of college football. Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers were flawless and the Tigers routed the Sooners on their way to hoisting a national championship. Hopefully, things turn out a bit differently the next time these two teams meet. With Oklahoma's close proximity to Louisiana, this game could become a new rivalry for the Sooners. If they end up in the same division in the SEC, this game will carry huge implications in the race for the SEC title.

Missouri Tigers

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The Sooners have played more games against Missouri than they have the rest of the current SEC combined. The Sooners and the Tigers have met 91 times across the Big 12 and Big 8. Against the rest of the SEC, the Sooners have a combined 71 meetings (not counting Texas). While a lot of the focus during the last realignment was on the loss of Nebraska as a conference rival, Missouri was an underrated loss as well. The border matchup with Missouri proved to be an entertaining game in their final years of the Big 12 as Chase Daniel and company made things very difficult for the Sooners.

Texas A&M Aggies

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This game doesn't carry as much importance as Texas or Missouri, but it's a game that will likely matter in Oklahoma's pursuit of SEC championships. Texas A&M, with Jimbo Fisher at the helm, has become a contender in the SEC West. Their only loss in 2020 was to Alabama and they finished just outside of the College Football Playoff. Whether in a two-division or a four-pod format, the Sooners will likely play the Aggies every year and that game should provide great atmospheres and excitement for college football fans across the country.

Florida Gators

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Are we done hearing about how the Cotton Bowl didn't mean anything to the Gators? Probably not. When you get your hat handed to you, you look for reasons as to why. The SEC has been good at using the, "it didn't matter" excuse when Oklahoma wins those matchups in bowl games. And while technically it may not have mattered, the game still played and the Sooners still won. Soon, though, the Sooners and the Gators will lock it up as conference foes and those games will matter on the national landscape and in the SEC. Bob Stoops' success as the defensive coordinator for Steve Spurrier and the Gators brings another level of intrigue to a game that will be a fun one to watch.

Arkansas Razorbacks

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Arkansas hasn't been great in football in recent years, but Oklahoma's neighbor to the east will be a fun game nonetheless. There may not be much of a rivalry between the schools, but residents of the two states have a lot of fun throwing verbal jabs at each other. The border state may not provide much of a challenge for the Sooners at the moment, but it'll be a fun contest between the two states. This one has the opportunity of becoming the new Oklahoma State game for the Sooners. A rivalry within the conference that generally isn't much of a challenge.

Auburn Tigers

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The Oklahoma Sooners and the Auburn Tigers have only played a couple times in the history of their programs, and Oklahoma's won both. The most recent was the 35-19 win in the 2017 Sugar Bowl for the Sooners. It's not a game with much history, and the Sooners don't have much connection to the program, however, Auburn is a part of that second tier in the SEC. In most years, they fall in just behind Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and LSU. They'll be a tough matchup for the Sooners when they land on the schedule.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

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Mike Leach vs Lincoln Riley. The inventor of the "Air Raid" offense vs arguably the most successful proponent of the "Air Raid" offense. If Leach can find some quarterback consistency, this could potentially be a high-scoring affair. Also, a Mike Leach press conference is must-see television, so that will provide a lot of fun in the build-up to this game.

Ole Miss Rebels

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Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss has provided some offensive fireworks. Along with Riley, Kiffin has been one of college football's most successful offensive architects. When Oklahoma and Ole Miss lock up for the first time, this game has the chance to be a fun, high-scoring affair that will test Oklahoma's defense.

Kentucky Wildcats

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If he's able to stick around until the two teams meet, Mark Stoops getting to play the Oklahoma Sooners will provide for a fun lead-up to the game. Bob Stoops is one of the Sooners' most successful coaches. The other brother Mike Stoops left the program unceremoniously after his defenses could no longer get stops. Stoops vs Oklahoma should provide quite a few interesting storylines.

South Carolina Gamecocks

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South Carolina has really struggled since Steve Spurrier finally called it a career. Hoping to resurrect the program is former Sooners Assistant Head Coach Shane Beamer. The son of legendary Virginia Tech Head Coach Frank Beamer, Shane should fit in quite well in the Southeast. Aside from Beamer's connection to the Sooners, this one doesn't move the needle much. If Beamer's able to find some success with the Gamecocks, this game will rise up the ranks. But for now, it's not all that intriguing.

Vanderbilt Commodores

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When Vanderbilt and the Oklahoma Sooners matchup in baseball, it should be a really interesting matchup. In football, well I guess every conference has a Kansas. Vanderbilt is one of the few games on a future SEC schedule that you should be able to mark down as a win. The Commodores haven't had a winning record since 2013. They didn't win a game in 2020 and won just three in 2019. Certainly, things could turn around under Clark Lea, but for now, this one holds very little intrigue.

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