Less than two weeks from the end of Oklahoma's 2010 football season the bar seems to be raised higher and higher for 2011 with each passing day. We've discussed underclassmen returning for their senior seasons, skill position players that should be game breakers and how coaching staff moves will affect the performance on the field. But what about the schedule itself? Who are the 2011 opponents for Oklahoma? Let's take a look.
The Sooners have six home games next season, will face five opponents on the road and one at a neutral site. Here's a view of their opponents ranked from least to most difficult.
12. TBD: Ball State - The Cardinals posted a 4-8 behind freshman quarterback Keith Wenning. They'll most likely be Oklahoma's season opener.
11. 10/15: @ Kansas - Anything that could go wrong for the Jayhawks in 2010 did resulting in a 3-9 finish. Yes, the Jayhawks did beat Georgia Tech in Lawrence but they also lost to North Dakota State there as well.
10. 11/12: Iowa State - The Cyclones finished 2010 at 5-7 and will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2012.
9. 10/22: Texas Tech - Two questions face the Red Raiders going into the 2011 football season. 1) Who will play quarterback? 2) Will Texas Tech find a defense?
8. TBD: Tulsa - Quarterback G.J. Kinne guided Tulsa to a 10-3 record and a Top 25 finish in 2010. The Golden Hurricane will be coming to Norman with something to prove.
7. 10/29: @ Kansas State - The Wildcats scored a total of 48 touchdowns in 2010 and Daniel Thomas was responsible for 19 of those. KSU has a lot to replace in Thomas and quarterback Carson Coffman is the first person they'll look to.
6. 11/19: @ Baylor - Any respect I gained for the Bears in 2010 was gone by the end of their 38-14 loss to Illinois in the Texas Bowl.
5. TBD: Missouri - The Blaine Gabbert era has drawn to a close in Columbia but a talented group of running backs remains.
4. 10/08: Texas - No one really knows what to expect from Texas in 2011. One thing we do know is that the Red River Shootout should never be overlooked.
3. 11/05: Texas A&M - The fact that this game is in Norman should provide Sooner fans tons of confidence but this looks to be the toughest home game of the 2011 football season for OU.
2. TBD: @ Florida State - Oklahoma had their way with the Seminoles when the two teams met in Norman early in the 2010 season. However, we were looking at a different Florida State team at the end of the season as the Seminole defense caught on. Now they'll be looking to make a point with the Sooners early in the 2011 season.
1. 11/26: @ Oklahoma State - The Cowboys were as close as they've ever been to winning the Big 12 in 2010 and it was the Sooners who came to Stillwater and ruined their party. Thanks to the restructuring of the conference Oklahoma will be playing OSU on the road again in 2011.