The Sooners are relevant once again because Mayfield made it so
The legend of Baker Mayfield begins with an offer from Rice and a shoulder shrug from everyone else.
It now has grown and grown and mushroomed into something that started with roots in Lubbock, Texas and now has bloomed into something stretching from the banks of the Tennessee River to the Brazos.
Mayfield hasn't saved the season at Oklahoma, he's made the the Sooners relevant when it seemed things were spiraling downward, sinking without an identity.
"A lot of coaches missed on him," Stoops said to the media gathered at McLane Stadium. "He's just a gym rat, a baller."
Saturday at Baylor, Oklahoma passed for 270 yards , ran for 241 and bullied their way into a national title picture thanks to Mayfield's attitude, right arm and legs.
Less than a season removed from an 8-5 undoing, Oklahoma is now 9-1 and the class of the conference. Oklahoma State is unbeaten, but the Sooners have momentum like no other after a road win against Baylor – their first win in the regular season against a top-five team since September of 2011 when OU won at Florida State.
"This win means we are one of those teams that has a chance," Stoops said.
A chance because of a two-time walk-on, who saved the day at Tennessee with a second-half comeback and then boosted himself, his team and this conference into a bright, national spotlight.
Who's playing better than Oklahoma? Who's meant more to their team than Mayfield, a former Tech walk-onwho threw three more touchdown passes and ran for another?
"Don't know why he wouldn't," Stoops said of the inevitable issue of whether Mayfield should be getting some Heisman Trophy attention.
Mayfield went 24-for-34 for 270 yards and didn't provide a Heisman Moment, he provided a scrapbook, filled with scrambling runs and timely throws, the last coming on a third-and-goal when Mayfield was everything the Sooners weren't last year – patient and poised, visionary and confident. Dimitri Flowers shook free and Mayfield found him for a touchdown. The result meant a 10-point lead in the closing moments where the defense didn't have to absorb a bit of the pressure.
Put all of it on Mayfield. Minutes after the game, Mayfield was trending on Twitter and suddenly making the Sooners buzzworthy once again.
Oklahoma opened the weekend ranked No. 12 in the College Football Playoff and passed every conceivable "Eye Test," imaginable. The Sooners ended Baylor's unbeaten season, held the Bears to 416 yards, more than 200 yards fewer than it averaged coming in.
Baylor is the two-time defending Big 12 champion and had beaten OU two iyears in a row, both by rout. But Saturday, the Bears led only once - 6–0. Now, Oklahoma is two wins away from not just winning the Big 12, but becoming a late-comer to the national championship scene.
Mayfield has made it so. Thirty-one touchdowns and just five interceptions for a team where he's not only revived but has done so in the most unlikely of ways.
Oklahoma was lost and without a quarterback. Now they're a pair of wins away from college football's elite.