Heisman candidate Mayfield powers Oklahoma’s hot start
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Not only did Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield beat Ohio State in Columbus and avenge last year’s embarrassing Buckeyes blowout, he also powered his way into the Heisman Trophy conversation.
Mayfield is on a roll, and so are the Sooners.
The confident quarterback, a Heisman finalist last season, carved up the No. 2 Buckeyes in a national TV game Saturday night by repeatedly scrambling away from a robust pass rush and firing precision passes to receivers often wide open in the secondary. He completed 27 of 35 throws for 386 yards and three touchdowns in the 31-16 win. Meanwhile, Ohio State’s offense could never get out of second gear.
The game really wasn’t as close as the score, as Oklahoma fumbled the ball away on consecutive possessions in the first quarter and was locked in a 3-3 tie with the Buckeyes at the half. The Sooners took the lead for good near the end of the third quarter, and Mayfield poured it on in the fourth.
“We should have won by a lot more,” Mayfield said.
His performance came a week after the 22-year-old set a school record by starting the opener against UTEP with 16 straight completions. He was 19 for 20 for 329 yards and three TDs before taking a seat for the entire second half of the 56-7 home win. He hasn’t lost a game since last September’s stumble against Ohio State.
“Baker deserves a ton of credit,” said first-year Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley , who didn’t have to wait long for a signature win. “I mean he’s a great player, he played extremely, extremely well tonight against a defense as good as theirs.”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was disgusted with his team’s performance but recognized Mayfield’s effort.
“He’s a good player, really good player,” Meyer said. “And I told him afterward. Got a lot of respect. I love his competitiveness and energy. We had him wrapped up, I want to say, eight times and he came out of that thing.”
Oklahoma’s national championship hopes are flickering brighter after the Ohio State win. The Sooners will move up in the AP Top 25 but have some tough games left in the regular season, including three against currently ranked teams — at No. 19 Kansas State on Oct. 21, at No. 11 Oklahoma State on Nov. 4, and at home a week later against No. 23 TCU.
As the Sooners celebrated late Saturday, Mayfield grabbed an Oklahoma flag and raced around the field before stopping and emphatically planting it in the middle of the block “O” logo at midfield as the Ohio State band stood and watched.
It was payback time for the Sooners, who had to watch Buckeyes players embrace and sing their alma mater on the field after the 45-24 loss at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium a year ago.
“It was embarrassing for them to sing their fight song on our field, and they probably feel the same way right now,” Mayfield said. “We’ve had that mood in the locker room that nobody believes in us.”
There are more believers now, in the Sooners and in their quarterback.
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