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Football isn’t just a thing in Oklahoma, it’s a way of life, it’s an idol that we worship, it’s an addiction we crave. With great anticipation we await the start of the season and with each year the schedule brings a new set of circumstances, sure victories, and plenty of anxiety. The 2016 schedule is no different as the Sooners are front loaded with great competition that can either turn the season into a rebuilding campaign or a national title contender. Here’s what’s in store this fall.

September 3 | @ Houston – Must See Rating: (4 Stars)

This is definitely a trap game for Oklahoma! It’s also a road trip that will very much be worth taking. The Sooners are reloading on defense and Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. is looking to build on last year’s breakout season. The Cougars scored an average of 40.4 points per game in 2015 and will no doubt be looking at this as an opportunity to audition for a spot in the Big 12’s expansion.

It’s also the debut of the brand new NRG Stadium which will serve as the home of the Houston Texans. With 72,000 seats available there’s not going to be a shortage of affordable tickets.

September 10 Louisiana Monroe – Must See Rating (2 Stars)

There’s no redeeming value to the game itself here (ULM was 2-11 last season) but it’ll be your first opportunity to see the expansion at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

September 17 | Ohio State – Must See Rating (5 Stars)

It’ll be the hottest ticket in the nation and the top game of the day. There’s legitimate potential that this will be a Top 5 match-up and the memories will hearken back to Uwe von Schamann and “the kick” from 1977.

The Buckeyes only have eight returning starters from 2015 but there’ no doubt that they’re coming to Norman representing the pride of the Big 10.

October 1 | @ TCU – Must See Rating (5 Stars)

Danger! This game falls between Ohio State in Norman and Texas in Dallas. It’s also one of the most critical conference games of the season for the Sooners. Preseason ranking have the Big 12 race coming down to Oklahoma or the Horned Frogs and the winner of this contest will be squarely in the driver’s seat.

TCU will be stacked on defense (7 returning starters) but will also be starting over on offense. The Sooners haven’t won in Ft. Worth since 2012.

October 8 | Texas (in Dallas) – Must See Rating (5 Stars)

Last year’s game tells you all you need to know about this rivalry. Records and rankings don’t matter at all. The only thing that’s important is who gets to plant their flag at the fifty yard line of the Cotton Bowl after sixty minutes of battle.

It’s the greatest rivalry in college football with the greatest atmosphere ever for a college football game. If you’ve never gone the certainly place it on your bucket list.

October 15 | Kansas State – Must See Rating (3 Stars)

A Bill Snyder team should never be taken for granted but even with 14 returning starters from last year’s six-win team, the Wildcats are a long way from being conference contenders. That said, the Sooners haven’t beaten Kansas State in Norman since 2009.

October 22 | @ Texas Tech – Must See Rating (5 Stars)

This is a crucial year for Texas Tech Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury. Even more so though, the feud between Baker Mayfield and all of West Texas may actually reach an epic climax as Red Raider fans finally get the opportunity to throw batteries at the Sooner quarterback in person as opposed to chunking them at their television screen last fall. This will be Mayfield’s one and only return to Lubbock, as a starter, since leaving after his freshman season in 2013.

As for the Red Raiders themselves, they haven’t won a conference title since 1994 when they were a part of the old Southwest Conference.  They won’t be in contention this season either.

October 29 | Kansas – Must See Rating (1 Star)

Samaje Perine ran for 427 yards the last time the Jayhawks came to Norman! That’s it. Time to move on. There’s nothing else to see here.

November 3 | @ Iowa State – Must See Rating (1 Star)

I’m sure the basketball game a month later will be pretty entertaining. This game is so bad they had to move it to a Thursday night just to get someone to watch it.

November 12 | Baylor – Must See Rating (3 Stars)

We’re only in the preseason but this game has lost a lot of luster. Baylor’s trying to figure out a new coach, overcome transfers, and get through a scandal. The Bears still have a chance to be very good (11 returning starters) but they could also fall directly off the map as well. Only time will tell but don’t be surprised if there’s suddenly a lot at stake in this game.

November 19 | @ West Virginia – Must See Rating (4 Stars)

Raise your hand if you know what to expect from the Mountaineers this fall. Even the folks in Morgantown have their hands down on this one. Seven starters back on offense and Dana Holgorsen will make West Virginia dangerous and getting to play Oklahoma at home should put the Sooners on upset alert.

OU hasn’t lost to West Virginia since the 2007 Fiesta Bowl but they’ve had extremely close calls on their last two trips to Morgantown.

December 3 | Oklahoma State – Must See Rating (5 Stars)

Bedlam says it all! The Sooners have won eleven of the last thirteen games against their in-state rivals but the Cowboys stole the game, in overtime, the last time they played in Norman.

With 19 returning starters from a year ago I’ve got OSU pegged as the dark horse contender in the conference and this game could end up having the exact same implications on it that it did a year ago. This could be the Big 12 Championship!