Early Schedule Breakdown

NORMAN, Okla. -- The Sooners finally released all the official dates for their 2011 football season the other day, so now it's time to analyze it.

The pros:

1. Three of the first four are at home--A great way to get a good flow going early in the season is to play in front of the home crowd. That helps for working out any kinks because it gives an edge to the home team and takes some of the pressure off it. Furthermore, playing at home is huge from the stand point of not having to travel and possibly get fatigued in the process. OU will get that benefit early in 2011 by hosting Tulsa, Missouri and Ball State in three of the opening four weeks.

2. There are two bye weeks:Speaking of not getting fatigued, having a pair of off weeks is perfect for that. And that's just the case with the scheduling this upcoming season. There's one early and another late. That will help to break up the year into three parts.

3. One of those off dates is before perhaps the toughest game of the year:The Sooners will have two weeks to prepare for a trip to Tallahassee, Fla., to take on the Florida State Seminoles. FSU figures to easily be in the Preseason Top 10 when it is released, so having a two weeks for preparation is crucial. Now, the Seminoles will also have 14 days to get ready, but it's more important for the road team in this situation.

4. OU faces a pair of the expected five Top 25 teams at home--The Sooners will play host to the Texas A&M Aggies and Missouri Tigers, both in revenge games, and both in games that figure to feature two Top 25 teams, if not a pair of Top 15 teams. Playing those at home is a big boost.

The cons:

1. OU no longer has an off-date before Bedlam--Due to the schedule switch, the Sooners now have their second bye before the Baylor trip instead of on November 26 a week prior to the battle against Oklahoma State. Another week to prepare for OSU would be a huge plus, but that won't be the case.

2. The two toughest games are on the road--As previously mentioned, the Sooners will take on the Seminoles in Tallahassee. Not only that, but they also face the Cowboys in Stillwater for the second year in a row. Both of those teams figure to be in the Top 10 when the Sooners meet them on the gridiron. Defeating these two on the road surely will be much more difficult.

3. There are only two games before OU's first conference matchup--OU really doesn't have much time to prepare for its first Big 12 contest against Missouri, which lies on the third week of the schedule. One of those obviously is the Florida State game, so that won't exactly be a tune up for Missouri. The other is the season-opener against Tulsa. Neither of those figure to be cakewalks, so the Sooners get going fast and must be completely prepared to start the conference slate off the right way from the get-go.

4. Four of the final seven are on the road--After OU has three of its first four at home, it finishes with five of the final eight away from Norman. One of those, the usual OU-Texas matchup in Dallas, is at a neutral location, but besides that, all the away games are in true road settings. Those feature trips to Kansas and Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State.

Stay tuned for more on the schedule as the season grows nearer.

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