National champion Oklahoma to open season vs. North Carolina

Saturday, February 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ The University of Oklahoma announced Saturday it would open the 2001 football season at home against North Carolina Aug. 25 in the Hispanic Fund Football Classic.

The Sooners, who finished 13-0 after beating Florida State in the Orange Bowl for the national title, could end up playing 14 games in 2001 _ 12 during the regular season, the Big 12 title game and then a bowl game.

The game is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. CDT and will be nationally televised by ESPN, the school announced. It will mark the first preseason game for the Sooners since a 1997 appearance in the Pigskin Classic.

``We're excited to play in a preseason game,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said in a news release. ``Certainly North Carolina has a very good tradition in football. We're anxious to get out there and play and it will be fun to play an extra game.''

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione is still trying to find an opponent for an open date on Oklahoma's schedule Sept. 1. If one isn't found, the Sooners would have 11 regular-season games and a potential 13-game season. A decision is expected next week, a school spokesman said.

The OU-North Carolina game marks the debut of Tar Heels coach John Bunting. Oklahoma and North Carolina last played in 1988 _ the Sooners won 28-0 at Chapel Hill, N.C., and they are 6-0 all-time against the Tar Heels.

Oklahoma, which now has seven home games, has other non-conference matchups at Southern California Sept. 8 and home to Arkansas State Sept. 15. Among Big 12 games are home games against Kansas State and Texas A&M and road games against Texas (at Dallas) and Nebraska.

The Hispanic Fund game, one of several ``classic'' games approved by the NCAA that allows teams to play 12 regular-season games, is in its second year. Texas Tech beat New Mexico 24-3 at Lubbock, Texas, in the inaugural game.

The Oklahoma-North Carolina matchup comes just after the Sooners raised ticket prices by 55 percent to fund a $60 million renovation of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Season ticket prices rose from $145 to $225, an $80 increase that includes admission to the North Carolina game and a $30 surcharge for stadium improvements.

Individual tickets to the OU-North Carolina game will cost $35.