Jenni’s Game Day in Oklahoma: Big 12 night games in Norman aren’t as rare as you think

Jenni’s Game Day in Oklahoma: Big 12 night games in Norman aren’t as rare as you think

Jenni Carlson: Did you know Iowa State has never scored more than 13 points when Brent Venables is on the OU sideline? We’ve got fun facts and more before OU plays Iowa State.

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| Sep 30, 2023, 8:53am CDT

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

Sep 30, 2023, 8:53am CDT

A tradition like no other: OU fans complaining about 11 a.m. kickoffs for home games.

I understand the frustrations. Your day starts early. You get little time to tailgate or hang out before the game. And if you have plans to go out to eat after the game, those plans could be scuttled by a loss, unless everyone wants to drown some sorrows.

But here’s the thing: OU doesn’t get a ton of 11 a.m. home kickoffs for conference games.

It’s true.

With Saturday’s Big 12 home opener against Iowa State kicking off at 6 p.m., I decided to go back a few years and look at start times when OU is playing a conference opponent. And it’s interesting; neither the league nor the broadcasters are trying to stick the Sooners with early (bad) start times during Big 12 play.

Last season, the Sooners played four conference games in Norman, and only one started at 11 a.m.

Kansas State, 7 p.m.

Kansas, 11 a.m.

Baylor, 2 p.m.

Oklahoma State, 6:30 p.m.

The year before was the same. Four conference games in Norman, one at 11 a.m.

Even the 2020 season made weird by the pandemic fell in line, four and one.

Now, non-conference games are a different story. Two of three home non-conference games two years ago were at 11 a.m. A year ago, it was one of three. This year, one of three. That’s a much higher percentage of early kick times.

The reality is that conference games in Norman aren’t often at 11 a.m. So, good news for you, Sooner fans — less complaining.

You can thank me later.

And since you’ve got more time at that tailgate or watch party because of that evening kickoff, I brought some extra pregame snacks. These tasty treats are digestible and packed with goodness. With no Oklahoma State game this week, we’ll focus on OU. 

Sooner to watch: I’m not sure of the name, but Designated Go-To Running Back is who I’ll be watching. I cannot figure out what Jeff Lebby and DeMarco Murray are up to with the tailbacks. Tawee Walker has been the best of the bunch, but Jovantae Barnes and Gavin Sawchuk have gotten very little run. But then last week, Marcus Major was the main guy. Who will it be this week? I literally have no idea.

Sooner newcomer to watch: Iowa State’s offensive line has allowed only one sack this season. One. The Cyclones are one of only three teams nationally to have only allowed one. That puts the OU defensive line on alert, so keep an eye on Rondell Bothroyd. The transfer from Wake Forest has started to assert himself at defensive tackle. Doing so again against Iowa State will be crucial. He doesn’t have to get the pressure, but he can sure help his teammates get some.

A familiar face in Norman: Whether they want to or not, Sooner fans remember Kyle Kempt. As Iowa State’s third-team quarterback, he led the Cyclones to one of the biggest upsets in Big 12 history, a 38-31 victory against the 31-point-favorite Sooners in 2017. Kempt is now a quality control coach on Matt Campbell’s Iowa State staff.

Cool stat going into OU-Iowa State: OU has a 79-7-2 all-time record against Iowa State. That .909 winning percentage is the best by a Power Five program against another (minimum 50 games played).

Something to watch in Norman: OU is undefeated against Iowa State when Brent Venables is a member of the Sooner staff, a perfect 8-0. But here’s what’s interesting: OU has held Iowa State to a total of 50 points in those eight games. The Cyclones have never scored more than 13 points against a Sooner team with Venables on the sidelines.

If you go to Norman …: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I thought (hoped? prayed?) I wouldn’t have to talk about the heat at this point in the season, but here we are. The forecasted high is 94 with lots of sun. Don’t get surprised by the heat. 

If you don’t go …: There are lots of great games to fill your day before OU’s evening kickoff. USC at Colorado, Florida at Kentucky and Texas A&M at Arkansas early. Georgia at Auburn, Kansas at Texas and LSU at Ole Miss in the afternoon. Enjoy!

If I could be in two places: I’m definitely intrigued by Notre Dame at Duke, but I’d love to be in Austin as Texas hosts Kansas. It might be a blowout — the Horns dominated a year ago after losing to the Hawks in 2021 — but Jalon Daniels and the Kansas offense is stout and the Kansas defense isn’t half bad either. Also, I wonder where Texas heads are a week before a showdown with OU.

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Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

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