Breaking down Oklahoma's 2013 schedule

NORMAN, Okla. -- It won’t take long for Oklahoma to find out if it’s a true title contender next season.

Tuesday, the Big 12 released its 2013 conference schedule, as well as the nonconference dates for its members.

The Sooners open with Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia and Tulsa at home. But then after a bye, OU will travel to Notre Dame on Sept. 28. Two weeks later, the Sooners will face Texas on Oct. 12.

“Our scheduling philosophy has been well documented over the years. We work annually to ensure that our schedule is challenging and gives our team an opportunity of competing for championships,” athletic director Joe Castiglione said in a statement. “We are excited about opening our Big 12 Conference schedule at home and look forward to facing quality competition throughout the year.”

The Sooners’ toughest tests next season, however, will be away from home. OU is 1-9 against the Irish, who are No. 1 at the moment and one game away from securing a national championship berth. Notre Dame beat OU 30-13 in Norman this season, and held off the Sooners 34-30 in South Bend in 1999.

OU will go back to Stillwater on Dec. 7 in a game that could have Big 12 title implications. The Cowboys could return as many as 17 of 22 starters, including all three of their quarterbacks. OSU, traditionally, has played the Sooners tough in Stillwater, and hammered OU 44-10 there last season.

The good news for the Sooners is that they will have a week off before Bedlam, as well, with Thanksgiving Weekend schedule to be a bye. OU’s other off week is Nov. 2.