NORMAN – Challenging non-conference schedules haven’t been all that rare under Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, but playing one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation this season comes with one of the toughest season openers of any school in the country.
Oklahoma and Houston combined for the best record from last season of any season-opening game, and to make things even tougher, the Sooners are playing a neutral site opener – in Houston – for only the fourth time in program history. One of those games was against BYU, when the Sooners lost Sam Bradford to a shoulder injury that ultimately ended his college career.
The other two came before the turn of the century – the 20th century.
The challenge is obvious as Oklahoma has started its season away from home only three times under Stoops, and two of those contests came against Tulsa and UTEP. After a long camp and plenty of preparation for Saturday’s game against Houston, the Sooners seem ready.
“If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” Oklahoma cornerback Dakota Austin said. “If you can pop it off and just get it out the way, you know what you’ll bring to it. . . . It’s a great opportunity to show what you’re worth early in the season.”
Some of them even prefer to start with a tough opponent.
“The preparation that we had this summer was pretty intense,” Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews said. “I think that’s overall going to help us to start the season strong and just be ready to play just because we have to be so ready for this Houston game because they’re such a good team. I think it’ll be beneficial for us for sure.”