No schedule is perfect. In a 14-team conference, there will be something that somebody or some school doesn’t like about the schedule. That’s true for Oklahoma. However, on paper, the 2023 schedule looks to be a favorable one for the Sooners.
No Kansas State or an improving Texas Tech team. You don’t have to deal with Baylor, who’s beaten you twice in a row. Road trips to Cincinnati and Provo aren’t ideal, and neither is the short week to face TCU. But again, scheduling isn’t a perfect world.
With the schedule out, let’s look at what the Sooners could do in 2023 with this way-too-early game-by-game prediction.
Sept. 2: Arkansas State (Norman)
Oklahoma coach Brent Venables is greeted by fans as he arrives before a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Kansas State Wildcats at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
We mean this as no disrespect to the Red Wolves, but Arkansas State isn’t coming to Norman and winning. They had a nice run from 2011 to 2019 under Gus Malzahn, Hugh Freeze, and Blake Anderson, but over the last three years, they’re 9-26. That spans the last season of Anderson at the helm and the first two seasons with Butch Jones as head coach.
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners win 42-7
Sept. 9: SMU Mustangs (Norman)
Oct 24, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs cornerback Sam Westfall (6) is congratulated by the fans following SMU’s 34-31 win against the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium. Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
The second game on the Sooners’ schedule isn’t quite what it was with OU and Georgia cutting the home-and-home. But SMU will do. The Mustangs will break in a new quarterback after Tanner Mordecai transferred to Wisconsin. The Mustangs have been doing a nice job of putting together offensive talent, but with the Sooners’ improvements, Oklahoma will be too much for the Ponies.
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners win 37-20
Sept. 16: Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (Tulsa)
Tulsa Golden Hurricane linebacker Justin Wright (30) and Tulsa Golden Hurricane defensive lineman Jaxon Player (90) celebrate after taking down Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) during the second half of Saturday’s NCAA Division I football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on September 18, 2021. Ohio State won the game 41-20.
Though this will officially be a road game, the crowd present for the Golden Hurricanes’ home tilt vs. Oklahoma will be decidedly slanted toward the Sooners. The hiring of Kevin Wilson will help Tulsa find its stride, but don’t expect big-time progression in year one.
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners win 38-20
Sept. 23: Cincinnati Bearcats (Cincinnati)
Sept. 25, 2010; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back DeMarco Murray (7) looks to get around Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Camerron Cheatham (21) during the third quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The first true test of the season has the Sooners heading to Cincinnati to face the Bearcats. They’re in a bit of a transition after losing Luke Fickell to Wisconsin, but don’t expect that to dampen what will be a hostile crowd.
This will be the Oklahoma defense’s biggest test to date. New head coach Scott Satterfield will help improve a Bearcats offense that was pretty good in 2022 when they averaged 29.5 points per game. Satterfield did some good things at Louisville during his tenure with the Cardinals.
If Oklahoma’s defense is better, this game will provide the first sign of that improvement.
Way-too-early prediction: Oklahoma wins 31-21
Sept. 30: Iowa State Cyclones (Norman)
Oct 29, 2022; Ames, Iowa, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) slides after making a first down around Iowa State Cyclones defensive back Mason Chambers (0) during the second quarter in the Big 12 Conference game at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune-USA TODAY Sports
The Iowa State Cyclones’ defense was one of the biggest surprises from the 2022 season in Big 12 play. It was surprising how ineffective they were on offense.
Dillon Gabriel and company had a tough time moving the ball in Ames but did enough to score. The Sooners’ defense kept Hunter Dekkers and the Cyclones from sustaining drives. Look for Oklahoma to win by double-digits again.
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners wins 30-13
Oct. 8: Texas Longhorns (Dallas)
Oct 8, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Danny Stutsman (28) reacts during the first half against the Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
A 5-0 start is a real possibility heading into the Red River Showdown.
It may be cliche but toss the records aside for the Sooners’ yearly matchup with the Longhorns. Though there’s been a ton of turnover on Oklahoma’s roster, there are enough dudes that were present for the 49-0 beatdown that would like to wipe that from their collective memory banks.
This is one of the toughest games on the schedule every year, but it’s especially true this season. Texas not only improved on offense last season, but they were also much better on defense. The Longhorns will be one of the favorites in the Big 12 as the fall approaches.
This game is a coin flip, but at the moment, we’ll give the edge to Texas (for now).
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners lose 31-28
Oct. 14: Bye Week
Head coach Brent Venables walks across the field as the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) holds fall camp practice at the rugby fields on Aug. 16, 2022 in Norman, Oklahoma. Steve Sisney/For The Oklahoman
Oklahoma wins the bye week, having it right in the middle of their season. Great opportunity to rest after what will be an emotional and physical matchup in Dallas.
Oct. 21: UCF Knights (Norman)
Nov 12, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; UCF Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (10) passes the ball against the Tulane Green Wave during the fourth quarter at Yulman Stadium. Rebecca Warren-USA TODAY Sports
Hosting the UCF Knights is one of the sneaky good games on the schedule. UCF has been one of the better Group of Five teams over the last six years and will give the Sooners a test with their rushing attack. In 2022, the Knights had three players with more than 796 rushing yards on the season. Gus Malzahn won’t be taken aback by the scene inside Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium after coaching eight seasons in Auburn.
On paper, the Oklahoma Sooners should be the better team, but the Knights will give them a game.
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners win 27-23
Oct. 28: Kansas Jayhawks (Lawrence)
Oct 15, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners tight end Brayden Willis (9) dives past Kansas Jayhawks cornerback Ra’Mello Dotson (3) to score a touchdown during the second half at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Lance Leipold has Kansas improving steadily, and 2023 will continue to bear that out. After a six-win season and bowl eligibility for the first time since 2008, the Jayhawks faithful will be buzzing at the opportunity to upset Oklahoma in Lawrence, especially if they can pick up a big win on the road against Oklahoma State the week prior.
Jalon Daniels will be a problem. The Jayhawks’ offense will put the Sooners’ defense to the test, but ultimately, Oklahoma has the talent to come out on top.
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners win 42-33
Nov. 4: BEDLAM – Oklahoma State (Stillwater)
Nov 19, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Jalil Farooq (3) catches a touchdown pass behind Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Korie Black (2) during a game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Bryan Terry-USA TODAY Sports
Speaking of fan bases that will be buzzing, the Oklahoma State crowd will be on fire for what could be the final Bedlam contest in quite some time. But that won’t be enough to overcome what the Sooners are bringing to Stillwater. Oklahoma dominated the Cowboys in 2022 with a much better quarterback in Spencer Sanders.
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners win 31-17
Nov. 11: West Virginia Mountaineers (Norman)
Nov 12, 2022; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Eric Gray (0) runs the ball for a touchdown during the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
The Oklahoma Sooners get to return home after what should be a win in Bedlam to face West Virginia. The Mountaineers took advantage of a wet day in Morgantown to knock off the Sooners in 2022. It was one of the “games that got away” from the Sooners. But don’t expect that to happen in 2023.
With improved talent at the first two levels of the defense, the Sooners should be better situated to handle Garrett Greene and the read-option run game.
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners win 33-20
Nov. 18: BYU Cougars (Provo)
Sep 5, 2009; Arlington, TX, USA; BYU Cougars quarterback Max Hall (15) looks for a receiver against the Oklahoma Sooners at Cowboys Stadium. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The most difficult road game of the season comes at the most crucial time of the year. A road trip to Provo in late November could bring the elements into play. Oklahoma’s ground game will need to be humming in what will be a physical contest against the BYU Cougars. BYU will be transitioning at quarterback after Jaren Hall declared for the NFL draft. Still, by this time of the year, the Cougars will have their quarterback situation figured out.
Next to Texas, this is probably the toughest game on the schedule, but the Sooners finally pick up their first win over BYU in its history.
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners win 30-24
Nov. 24: TCU Horned Frogs (Norman)
Oct 1, 2022; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs safety Abraham Camara (14) causes a fumble by Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Marvin Mims (17) during the first quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Hosting the TCU Horned Frogs on short rest isn’t ideal, especially coming off what will be a physical game in Provo against BYU. This matchup with TCU will be a physical contest as well. However, in year two of the Brent Venables era, the Sooners are a deeper and more team than the one that was blown out in Fort Worth a year ago.
This game will likely have Big 12 title game implications. Look for the Sooners to rise to the challenge.
Way-too-early prediction: Sooners win 31-28
Oct 15, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) runs with the ball during the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
11-1 may seem like a stretch or crimson-colored optimism, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable either. Our friends over at Longhorns Wire had Oklahoma at 10-2 in their breakdown of the Sooners’ schedule. They have the Sooners losing the Texas and TCU games. So we’re not too far off there.
The Sooners have made significant improvements on the defensive side of the ball after last year’s struggles. They’ve added talent to every level of the defense and filled offensive holes with established veteran talents.
TCU went from a 5-7 team in 2021 to winning 12 games and contending for the national championship. Guys like Josh Pate and Joel Klatt believe the Sooners could be right back in the mix to contend for the Big 12 title.
They’ll have to have health on their side and figure out a few positional battles, but as things stand in early February, the 2023 season looks promising on paper.
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