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Previewing Each of Oklahoma's Nonconference Games in 2024

Updated: Jun 22

Oklahoma's Coach Brent Venables

The Oklahoma Sooners dive into the 2024 season with historic new challenges. This is the first year the Sooners will be playing in the Southeastern Conference, and their SEC schedule is daunting, to say the least. Here is a chronological look at the nonconference games for the Sooners in the upcoming season.

Temple Owls (2023 3-9, 1-7, American Athletic Conference)

The season's opening game for Oklahoma and Temple has been moved from a traditional Saturday contest to Friday night, Aug 30, 2024, in Norman. This will be the Sooners' first game as an official member of the SEC. Temple comes into the season having lost its final three games in 2023, the last two by double digits. Roster turnover and unexpected assistant coaching changes yielded back-to-back 3-9 seasons for coach  Stan Drayton and the Owls.

Drayton will have some built-in dislike for the Sooners after he spent time on the sideline for the Sooners' biggest rival, the Texas Longhorns.

Gone from the offense is NFL legend Kurt Warner's son, EJ Waren, who transferred to Rice to play quarterback for that brand of Owls. Thus, the QB role is left up for grabs. Forrest Brock, the Santa Monica Community College transfer, looks to have the inside track at being the lead signal caller on an offense that ranked No. 73 in total offense a season ago.

Tempel Owls Football
© Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Cougars (2023 4-8, 2-7 Big 12 Conference)

Houston joined the Big 12 and missed playing Oklahoma in the Cougars' inaugural season in the conference. However, they will not be lucky enough to miss them this season.

Coach Willie Fritz came over from Tulane this year to take the reins at Houston. He ranks No. 5 in wins for active college coaches with 208 victories.

Houston must improve its defensive play, as it lost its last three games in 2023 by double digits. The unit ranked No. 112 in total defense. To be competitive in a league with explosive offenses like the Big 12, Fritz will have to get some defensive help, and he can start by building from the fertile recruiting grounds that are the state of Texas.

Dynamic playmaker Donovan Smith will lead the Cougars' offense. The dual-threat quarterback is always a danger to defenses, as he can take off anytime. Smith takes some risks throwing the ball, which led to his 28-12 touchdown/interception ratio. So, his decision-making must improve to take this team to new heights.

Houston Cougar Football
© Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Tulane Green Wave (2023 11-3, 8-0 American Athletic Conference)

The Green Wave is just one of those teams that will always give the Power Five squads a serious run for their money. Tulane and Oklahoma have only met twice in their programs' history, with Oklahoma winning both times. Oklahoma was scheduled to play at Tulane in 2021, but a hurricane and surge of COVID-19 cases necessitated moving the game to Norman. The Sooners won 40-35, even though Tulane outplayed them for much of the game.

Tulane's defense was ranked in the top 40 last year and will be led by lineman Patrick Jenkins, who returns as the team leader in sacks. The New Orleans native has made good progress since transferring from TCU and has seen conference championships and a Cotton Bowl victory over USC. The defensive line will have a lot of new faces this season, but Jenkins looks to be the leader of the Green Wave defense.

QB Kai Horton returns to lead the Green Wave offense following the departure of Michael Pratt. The offense struggled at times last year, and Horton will have to get in sync with his team to lead them to another AAC title game.

Makhi Hughes, one of the best redshirt freshmen in the country last year, will return as the leading rusher. He impressed all last season with 1308 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. Hughes will be a crutch for Horton to lean on, and he is expected to lend balance to the team's pass-oriented offense.

Tulane Green Wave
© Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports

Maine Black Bears (2023 2-9, 1-7 Colonial Athletic Association)

The Black Bears would have the upper hand if this were a hockey game. However, this is football, and the Sooners are a perennial powerhouse. The Black Bears are led by alumnus Jordan Stevens, who is in his third year as coach.

This is the typical mid-November cupcake game that the SEC teams have grown accustomed to playing. The Sooners should initially get their starters warmed up for the season's last two games against Alabama and LSU. Then, when the game is under control early, they will be able to get their backups some significant game time.

Carter Peevy comes in from Mercer to take the helm of Maine's offense. Due to the pressure of the Sooners' defense, he will likely be on the move most of the game. Peevy brings a dual threat to the Black Bears' offense. He can create with his legs and may have to do so frequently in Norman.

Oklahoma's Outlook

In their first season in the SEC, the Sooners will face a far more difficult schedule than they were used to in the Big 12. Gone are the days of mediocre Iowa State and Texas Tech teams. Oklahoma will now line up regularly against opponents like Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee, just to name a few.

The nonconference games allow the Sooners the opportunity to work out the kinks and rust from the offseason as the team gets ready for conference play.

Brent Venables and the Sooners agreed to a contract extension, taking his contract through the 2029 season. Thus, expectations are high in Boomer Sooner Nation.

Venables has been building toward this season since he got the job, and Sooner fans and the college football world are torn about how they feel the Sooners will do in the SEC. But, first things first: The Sooners must win their nonconference games to have a successful year.


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