Oklahoma rivalry going earlier as Big 12 title game returns

IRVING, Texas (AP) The Bedlam rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is moving to its earliest date in more than a decade as the Big 12 tries to avoid a quick rematch in the return of its championship game in 2017.

The Sooners and Cowboys will play on Nov. 4 next season after the rivalry was held at or near the end of the regular season every year since 2005.

This year, they would have played in consecutive weeks under the format that will be adopted in 2017, when a championship game returns despite the league's round-robin schedule . Oklahoma and Oklahoma State finished 1-2 last season as well.

The title game will be held for the first time since 2010, the last season before conference realignment left the league with 10 teams and no divisions. It will be held Dec. 2 at the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.

The Big 12 opted not to split into divisions after deciding against expansion while still adding the title game, leaving no way to guarantee that the top two teams won't play in consecutive weeks at the end of the regular season.

The return of the championship game also means no byes after Oct. 7, with the league losing its extra week to play regular-season games. The first full schedule on Oct. 14 is highlighted by the Red River rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will both be at home on the final weekend of the regular season. The Sooners will face West Virginia, and the Cowboys will get Kansas on that Thanksgiving weekend, which includes the Baylor-TCU rivalry in Fort Worth and Texas Tech visiting the Longhorns.

The last time Oklahoma and Oklahoma State played before late November was Oct. 30, 2004, when the Big 12 still had 12 teams and a divisional format.

There are three games on each of the first two weekends of Big 12 play, starting with West Virginia-Kansas, Oklahoma-Baylor and TCU-Oklahoma State on Sept. 23.

Kansas State (home against Baylor) and Texas Tech (home against Oklahoma State) have their conference openers on Sept. 30 along with Texas and Iowa State. The Longhorns visit the Cyclones.

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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