Almost a month into the season, OU’s remaining schedule looks even tougher overall.
Ranking those games from toughest to easiest:
1. at West Virginia (Nov. 17)
Quarterback Geno Smith and West Virginia still appear to be the Big 12 favorites.
Before the season, this looked like OU’s most challenging game. Nothing the Mountaineers have done so far has changed that. Quarterback Geno Smith seems like a bona fide Heisman contender, and the receiving tandem of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey has been as good as any in the country.
If the game were played this weekend, West Virginia might come off a touchdown favorite.
2. Texas (Oct. 13) I had the Texas game fourth before the season. But the Longhorns have been sharp to begin the season and figure to be a load in Dallas. We’ll learn a lot more about Texas over then next two weeks as the Horns face Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
But it’s clear that the Texas defense will be a formidable challenge for this sputtering Sooners offense.
3. Notre Dame (Oct. 27) There may be no more improved team in the country than the Fighting Irish, who have already dispatched Michigan and Michigan State. It’s now very conceivable that Notre Dame enters Norman with a record of 7-0. The Irish still have Stanford, Miami and BYU. But Notre Dame should be favored in all three games.
4. at TCU (Dec. 1) Like Texas, the Horned Frogs have been stifling defensively thus far. If Brandon Carter, a former OU commitment, continues to develop at wideout alongside Josh Boyce, TCU will be a player in the Big 12 race.
5. at Texas Tech (Oct. 6) Lubbock has been a nightmare the last three times the Sooners have traveled there, and OU hasn’t beaten Tech on the road since 2003.
This will be a significant barometer for the psyche of this OU team. Lose in Lubbock and the wheels could begin to spin off the wagon.
6. Oklahoma State (Nov. 24) The OSU defense isn’t as good as some thought before the season. But whether it’s Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh quarterbacking, the Cowboys continue to hum offensively.
By November, Lunt could be playing with a ton of confidence. And let’s face it, beating OU in Norman doesn’t hold the same cache it once did.
7. at Iowa State (Nov. 3) Paul Rhoads’ bunch continues to play good football. Considering the Cyclones have knocked off one of the big boys in each of the last three seasons, this game figures to be dangerous.
Iowa State in Ames is no longer a gimme.
8. Baylor (Nov. 10) The Bears are one of six Top 25 opponents still left on the schedule. The Bears’ defense is suspect, but Baylor can still put up the points in the post-Robert Griffin III era.
That said, it’s difficult too see Baylor knocking off OU again.
9. Kansas (Oct. 20) The Sooners have one lock left on the schedule, and this is it. Charlie Weis’ squad has a long ways to go. The timing of this game couldn’t be better as it comes between Texas and Notre Dame on the Sooners’ schedule.