Despite the uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus, Oklahoma announced Saturday that it is moving its football opener against Missouri State up one week to Aug. 29.
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione indicated it is a move designed to get the school scheduling flexibility in the wake of the pandemic. The university said the NCAA approved the request to move the game.
“If the season is indeed permitted to start as scheduled, the benefit of extra time between games will help our teams manage any variety of possible circumstances that may occur,” Castiglione said in a statement. “Our original schedule had an open date between the second and third games, so now we will have a span of five weeks to play three games.
“It provides us a more gradual approach to safely manage the conditions of these unprecedented times. We’re thankful to Missouri State for their cooperation during this process and to the NCAA for allowing both teams to start the season a week earlier.”
The game against Missouri State was initially scheduled for Sept. 5. The Bears would reportedly receive $600,000 for the visit to Norman.
“We really appreciate the NCAA’s waiver approval to move our game with Oklahoma up to ‘week zero,'” Missouri State athletic director Kyle Moats said in a statement. “The request was made purely for the safety and health of the student-athletes and will allow both teams two weeks to recover before their next games and adjust as necessary to the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic.”
The move also gives Missouri State a bye between games. The Bears, under new coach Bobby Petrino, are scheduled to host Montana on Sept. 12.
Oklahoma’s slate now has just two games in September — a home contest against Tennessee on the 12th and a visit to Army on the 26th.
The Big 12 has yet to make a decision on whether it will resort to a conference-only schedule. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced such moves.