Tell Urban Meyer his post-game pizza is ready. Baker Mayfield just finished his delivery. The Sooners’ redshirt senior quarterback went 27-of-35 passing for 386 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions to lead no. 5 Oklahoma to a 31-16 win at no. 2 Ohio State on Saturday night.
Oklahoma fell behind the Buckeyes 10-3 after true freshman running back J.K. Dobbins scored from 6 yards out with 12:37 remaining in the third quarter. Then Mayfield, who was reportedly dealing with back problems, took over for the rest of the way. He threw only one incompletion in the second half, notching a statement win, vaulting himself to the forefront of the Heisman Trophy race, and staking the Sooners’ place as a College Football Playoff front-runner.
Baker Mayfield just did a victory lap around The Horseshoe and planted the OU flag at midfield. Wow. pic.twitter.com/6Bq8AjA5t2— Scott Bell (@ScottBellDMN) September 10, 2017
While Ohio State counterpart J.T. Barrett struggled throughout the game, missing receivers left and right on his way to going 19-of-35 for 183 yards, Mayfield channeled his inner Hoodie Melo, looking spry in the pocket, throwing darts to receivers, and avoiding the rampant Ohio State pass rush that came after him.
Look at this sorcery:
This is why it's so hard to defend Baker Mayfield pic.twitter.com/YKZ0vDvyy3— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 10, 2017
And look at this, which came shortly afterward:
The Sooners take the lead 17-13 on a Baker Mayfield 18 yard TD to Lee Morris. pic.twitter.com/JGfn1tBXxP— Tino Bovenzi (@TinoBovenzi) September 10, 2017
Mayfield used his mobility and his laser of an arm to slice up the Buckeyes defense, connecting with nine different receivers on the night. He didn’t just dissect OSU’s defense effectively; he also carried himself with a swag that was missing from last season’s matchup with Ohio State. In that game, Mayfield threw two picks and struggled, and the Buckeyes dominated en route to a 45-24 victory. This time, the roles were reversed.
Oklahoma’s decisive victory is affirmation that the Sooners remain the clear Big 12 favorites. It’s evidence that the program’s leadership transition from longtime head coach Bob Stoops to the newly appointed Lincoln Riley has been as smooth as Mayfield’s on-field moves. And while the OU offense will be the subject of adulation, this result was also a ringing endorsement for their defense. Oklahoma ranked 82nd nationally in total defense and 111th in passing defense last season. Against the Buckeyes, coordinator Mike Stoops’s group allowed just 350 total yards.
For Ohio State, this is strikingly familiar territory. In 2014, the Buckeyes lost in Week 2 at home, then ripped off 13 straight victories to win the national championship. (They were led by the dynamic, tweet-happy Cardale Jones, who took over the starting job after Barrett went down with an injury.) Their playoff aspirations are far from dashed. Yet after struggling in the first half with unranked Indiana last week and then keeling over in the second half against Oklahoma this Saturday, Meyer and the Buckeyes have plenty of adjustments to make.
The story of this game was Oklahoma, though, which can put to rest all doubts about whether it will be hurt by its lack of continuity at head coach. The team has the continuity that matters most: the kind at quarterback, with this guy in the middle of the action.
Statement made. Statement received.