Houston Game Moved to Sunday, Sept. 1
NORMAN — Assuring the Oklahoma football team a night game in its 2019 season opener against Houston, OU Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione announced Thursday that the Labor Day weekend contest in Norman has been moved to Sunday, Sept. 1. The contest will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT and be televised by ABC. It is the only FBS game scheduled for this date.
"This is an exciting opportunity for us," said Castiglione. "It gives us great visibility at the very outset of the 2019 season. It is equally appealing to me that we get to play the game in the best conditions for student-athletes and fans. By making this move, we ensured that this game would be played in the evening, thus avoiding the heat we've dealt with in each of the last two seasons."
Heat indices in Norman for OU's last two season-opening games reached 92 degrees in 2017 and 98 degrees last year. Seven of the last nine years have produced a heat index high of 99 degrees or higher on Aug. 31 in Norman.Castiglione also explained that the holiday weekend played a big role in the decision to move the game to Sunday.
"By making this move, we ensured that this game would be played in the evening, thus avoiding the heat we've dealt with in each of the last two seasons."
"The fact that the game is occurring on Labor Day weekend made it possible for us to make this change," he said. "Otherwise, I think it would have been very difficult to consider a Sunday evening option. We understand the concerns that some may have with a Sunday game, but we hope the later kickoff mitigates some of those. We certainly are sensitive to church and other events that are held on Sunday.
"We also recognize that this change impacts travel. We want to encourage the hotels in our area to work closely with our fans to accommodate this change. We are looking into the potential of developing an event on the Saturday preceding the game to serve and entertain fans who may be in the area. We want to make this a celebration of Oklahoma football."
Oklahoma's three previous Sunday football games occurred in bowls. OU beat Penn State in the Sugar Bowl on Dec. 31, 1972, and handled Virginia 48-14 in the Gator Bowl on Dec. 29, 1991. It lost 21-14 to LSU in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4, 2004.
"We're looking forward to this new and unique opportunity," said OU head coach Lincoln Riley. "In addition to giving us a coveted night game, the exposure we'll receive as the only game that day will be extremely beneficial to our program. We're embracing the date change."
OU owns a 2-1 all-time record against Houston. The Sooners downed the Cougars 40-14 in the 1981 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, and posted a 63-13 win in Norman as the nation's No. 2 team on Sept. 11, 2004. UH's win came in the 2016 season opener, a 33-23 contest played at NRG Stadium in Houston.
The Sept. 1 game for Houston will be its first under head coach Dana Holgorsen, who compiled a 61-41 record over the last seven years at West Virginia (0-7 vs. OU).
The Sooners, who have won four consecutive Big 12 championships and earned College Football Playoff berths in three of the last four years, have won 13 straight home openers.The 2019 campaign will be the 125th in the history of Oklahoma football. The OU Athletics Department is planning a multitude of content, collectibles and activities that will honor the Sooners' storied history. Those elements will be revealed this summer and fall.