Which is more shocking? Oklahoma had to mount a second half come-from-behind win against Baylor on Saturday night…or…Baker Mayfield wasn’t the focal point of that come from behind win? Pause for just a second and let the magnitude of that question sink in.
It’s not like Mayfield had an off night. In fact, he was his typical stellar self, completing nearly 70% of his passes for 283 yards and three scores. However, a closer look at the box score may cause those not watching to raise an eyebrow in disbelief. The frontrunner in the Heisman race only attempted 19 passes!
Mayfield’s biggest play was a 48-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Badet that put the Sooners back in front 35-31 with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter. His biggest contribution though was handing the ball off.
Again, not knocking Mayfield’s performance in any way. His touchdown pass to Badet snapped a streak of twenty consecutive Baylor points and put Oklahoma back on top to stay. It’s just that OU’s deadliest weapons on Saturday night were on the ground.
Of Oklahoma’s 625 total offensive yards, 342 came on the ground. Abdul Adams and Trey Sermon combined for the majority of those yards, going for 312 yards at a pace of 13.6 yards per carry. Oh yeah, they also combined for three touchdowns.
Adams set the tone for a strong night on the ground with a 99-yard score at the end of the first quarter. Oklahoma then seemed to lose their way a bit until Trey Sermon revived the rushing attack with 148 yards and two scores in the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t do a good job, especially, we hit a lot of big plays in the first quarter,” Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley said in the post game. “I didn’t do a very good job in the second quarter. I got a little impatient. Didn’t put our guys in a great position defensively, and it took me too long to catch up. So I’ve got to do better. We ran it well in the second half. We moved them up front, running through a lot of tackles.”
The lull in the offense occurred after Adam’s record-breaking run to close out the first quarter. Sermon revived the offense with a 34-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter and then scored again, from 9 yards out, to produce a 49-31 lead.
“He’s a fantastic player,” Mayfield said about Oklahoma’s freshman running back. “Just the way physically he is, not just how special he is, but especially at the point in the game where he came in and took over. At that point in time you wear a defense down in the throwing game and we had been doing that, but for him to come in fresh legs and break a lot of tackles and make plays. We blocked well, but he also was breaking a lot of tackles, and that’s something that he’s so special. It takes a lot more than just one guy to run him down.”
Oklahoma’s unexpected test in Waco was frustrating to watch on several levels. However, if you’re looking for a positive to bring away from it you can find it in the offensive game plan. Lincoln Riley pretty much had to scrap his typical air raid approach and go with more of a conventional ground and pound attack. When you consider the end result, everyone was just fine with that…including the Heisman frontrunner.
“We established the line of scrimmage in the second half and we were able to run the ball well, so I didn’t even need to throw,” Mayfield said. “That’s good for me.”
Quarterback: Mayfield pressed things a bit in the second quarter resulting in him over throwing on a few attempts. However, the overall body of work (13/19, 283 yard, 3 TDs) was praiseworthy and leaves no reason for any grade other than an A. Overall Grade: A+
Running Backs: You read the article, right? Overall Grade: A+
Recievers/Tight Ends: Mark Andrews. Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb tied for a team-high three receptions each. Andrews had a score and paced the group with 72 yards. The knock here is that Brown could have possibly led this group had he not quit on a go route that Mayfield threw to him in the second quarter. Overall Grade: A-
Offensive line: You want to say nothing but good things here based on the overall body of work. There’s concern here because of the pressure that was on Mayfield at times but some of that can be placed on the running backs as well. Overall Grade: A-