Oklahoma Sooners Football: What Would a Nine-Game SEC Schedule Look Like?

The off-season machinations in the SEC are actually significant for Oklahoma fans this year as the Sooners prepare to attend the conference [Year to be Determined]. Aside from Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban swapping barbs, the story that seems to be generating the most breathless media coverage is being planned within the conference. Will the SEC play nine or eight conference games?

SI.com’s Ross Dellenger recently laid out the stakes and parameters of the debate in the league conference rooms. But ultimately, how might the decision affect the Sooners?

Dave Bartoo of CFB Matrix (Patreon) recently organized an exercise to get an idea of ​​what a nine-game conference schedule might look like when OU and Texas join the league. Bartoo asked author representatives from each of the 16 teams to submit a list of five teams they think their schools would like to see as permanent opponents in conference play, ranked by preference. The results determined how each team’s constant opponents fared.

OU’s constant opponents

I represented the Sooners in practice. After soliciting contributions from a few other Bloviators and the Twitter Peanut Gallery, I submitted these five teams (in order or preference, highest to lowest):

  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Arkansas
  • Missouri
  • LSU

Texas at the top is obvious. I went second with the Gators for recruiting purposes. I see the Razorbacks and Mizzou as essentially even regional rivals in third and fourth place, and OU needs a non-heavyweight in the mix. I assumed three of the first ones would work, so I added LSU as another potential recruiting pick.

The results

Here’s what the sorting process spits out based on each team’s preferences:

  • Alabama: Auburn, LSU, Tennessee
  • Arkansas: Texas, Texas A&M, Ole Miss
  • Maroon: Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina
  • Florida: Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma
  • Georgia: Vanderbilt, Fla., Auburn
  • Kentucky: Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Missouri
  • LSU: Ole Miss, Alabama, Texas A&M
  • Ole Miss: State of Mississippi, LSU, Arkansas
  • State of Mississippi: Ole Miss, Missouri, South Carolina
  • Missouri: Oklahoma, State of Mississippi, Kentucky
  • Oklahoma: Florida, Texas, Missouri
  • South Carolina: Auburn, Florida, State of Mississippi
  • Tennessee: Kentucky, Alabama, Vanderbilt
  • Texas: Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Arkansas
  • Texas A&M: Texas, LSU, Arkansas
  • Vanderbilt: Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia

From my point of view, this worked out well for OU. The Sooners hold their annual game with their biggest rival and can rekindle a streak with a longtime Big 8/Big 12 foe. The Gators may lack a natural connection, but it would give OU a Florida game every two years.

A few more notes:

*One of the more interesting parts of this exercise was seeing other teams’ preferences. OU wasn’t exactly in demand as one would expect given its lack of history compared to the current members. Four schools had OU on their lists: Texas, Arkansas, Mizzou, and Florida.

Conversely, LSU and Ole Miss appeared in seven different polls. Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee were on sixth.

*I imagine some of these would work differently in real life. If I were to speculate some of these matchups would be included: Arkansas-Mizzou, Auburn-MSU, UGA-UK, Mizzou-S. Carolina.

How would it look?

Essentially, OU would be looking at its three permanent opponents and two rotating schedule blocks of six teams each. For example:

  • Continuous – Texas, Florida, Mizzou
  • Schedule A – UGA, S Carolina, Vanderbilt, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss
  • plan b – A&M, UK, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, MSU

With this alignment, conference schedules over a four-year period (home/visitor) could look like this:

Year One/Two

Maroon (V/H)
Mizzou (H/V)
Texas (N/N)
Vanderbilt (V/H)
Florida (H/V)
Ole Fraulein (V/H)
Georgia (H/V)
LSU (F/H)
S.Carolina (H/V)

year three/four

Alabama (V/H)
Mizzou (H/V)
Texas (N/N)
Great Britain (F/H)
Florida (H/V)
Arkansas (V/H)
A&M (H/V)
Tennessee (V/H)
MSU (H/V)

Sounds like fun.

Indeed, and it would be a pretty neat way to set the schedule.

However, I suspect this is mostly an academic exercise for now. My money is on the SEC maintaining an eight-game conference schedule with one constant opponent for the foreseeable future.

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