NORMAN — If Oklahoma had its druthers, the grounds crew would be painting the turf at Owen Field, RVs would be settling into the parking lot at Lloyd Noble Center and all the local hallmarks of a home football game would be popping up around Norman.
That will all have to wait until next week. The fourth-ranked Sooners will make their season debut at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas, Saturday night against UTEP.
Hitting the road isn’t the typical way OU starts the season. Players have taken note of it.
“It’s interesting to start the season on the road. I don’t think I’ve experienced that,” center Gabe Ikard said. “I’m excited to go on the road for game one. It’s going to be a tough test. I’m sure they sold it out and the place is going to be rocking. It’s a good test for us and our maturity in week one, to get on the road and play in a hostile environment. I think it will be good for us.”
The last time OU started a season away from the friendly confines of Owen Field was in 2009 and it didn’t turn out well. It lost to BYU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and lost Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford to a shoulder injury.
The Sooners haven’t kicked off a season in an opponent’s home stadium since 2002. They struggled through the first half before claiming a 37-0 victory over Tulsa. That game marked the only time in Bob Stoops’ tenure as coach that OU started a season in an opponent’s stadium.
Teams like smooth starts to the season.
“This is one of the most important games of the season because the first game sets the tone,” cornerback Aaron Colvin said.