This week, the Oklahoma Sooners football team got their first glimpse of what it is going to be like once they join the SEC next year. The SEC announced the entire 2024 conference schedule, where it also said it would be sticking with eight conference games instead of the rumored nine, after Oklahoma and Texas join, though minus the divisions. However, the set amount of conference games could only be temporary for the 2024 season. It has nevertheless created much anticipation towards what will be a new era in college football.
Oklahoma 2024 schedule
- Texas (Cotton Bowl)
- @ Auburn
- @ LSU
- @ Missouri
- South Carolina
- @ Ole Miss
Uh, welcome to the SEC, Oklahoma. It just means more.
“The SEC gave Oklahoma a gauntlet in 2024… that's like giving someone a hug and a spanking at the same time,” former Florida Gator quarterback Tim Tebow said.
On paper, Tebow is right — that is a gauntlet of a schedule. It will undoubtedly be one of the toughest in the entire conference, if not in all of college football. But if it wasn't daunting enough, having to adhere to SEC regulations, Oklahoma will have to schedule a Power-5 non-conference opponent as well, as is mandatory for every SEC team. Temple and Tulane are presently the only non-conference opponents on Oklahoma's 2024 schedule. Brutal.
Also, with the complete schedule, including dates and times, yet to be finalized, there is a possibility that the challenges presented by the schedule could only be intensified further for the Sooners. Only knowing who they will play is one challenge; when they will play them brings on another. Each game is bound to be one arduous test right after the other. But hey, welcome to the SEC, Oklahoma — it's that way nearly every week. There's four of these soon-to-be SEC conference games for the Sooners that are some of the most intriguing.
It actually wasn't that long ago when these two faced each other. Oklahoma fans are still probably trying to forget it, though. It was in the 2019 Peach Bowl against the eventual National Champions, where LSU drummed the Sooners 63-28. But that was in Atlanta. Going to LSU at Tiger Stadium brings a whole other dynamic to this game. It's one of the toughest places to play in all of college football for opponents. If Brian Kelly is still at the helm and continuing to progress the Tigers, then Sooners' fans better hope head coach Brent Venables has done similar for them because this will perhaps be the toughest matchup of the season. Baton Rouge will be electric, especially if it's a night game.
Hugh Freeze hasn't even coached a game at Auburn yet. But he also hasn't been fired yet for any further scandals. So, if he's there by 2024, the Sooners face yet another SEC Tigers team on the road. Jordan-Hare Stadium may not be Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, but it's still one of better college football atmospheres to experience if your a fan, and the worst if you're the opponent. The intrigue will be what kind of teams these are by the time this game happens. In the new world of college football with NIL and the transfer portal, quick turnarounds are not out of the ordinary.
Again, who knows what Oklahoma will look like by the time this game happens, and we all know as long as Nick Saban is at Alabama, the Crimson Tide will be in National Title contention. But this is one of those games that won't be a scarcity like it was before. With conference realignments, for better or worse, we get to see these type of showdowns on a yearly basis now, and not just at neutral site bowl games. The upcoming clash in 2024 will mark only the seventh time they have ever faced off, and their most recent encounter was during the Orange Bowl in December 2018. The only instance when they played on each other's home turfs was during a home-and-home series in 2002-2003.
In 2014 and 2015, these teams engaged in a series of games played both in a home-and-home series. The Sooners took both, with the former being a 34-10 beatdown. The latter was a little more memorable, however, where Oklahoma, led by Baker Mayfield, orchestrated an impressive comeback victory after trailing 17-0. This will be a much different Tennessee team than the one from nearly a decade ago. Under Josh Heupel, this Tennessee team seems to be on an upward trajectory. If the Vols continue to perform at a high level within the SEC, this game may not go in Oklahoma's favor.