By Michael Kinney
COLUMBUS, Ohio – When it was all said and done, Baker Mayfield had to do it. After everything that had been said and done by Ohio State, when the Oklahoma quarterback got a chance to get a little payback, he had to do it big and showy.
Mayfield helped guide the Sooners to a 31-16 victory over then No. 2 Ohio State Saturday at Ohio Stadium and sent the overwhelming majority of the109,088 fans home not in a good mood.
When the game was over, Mayfield grabbed a large OU flag, ran around the field waving it before heading to midfield and slamming in the middle of the Ohio State logo. While the act may have seemed disrespectful to some, it summed up the entire mood the Sooners had been in for a year.
“We had that mood in the locker room that nobody believes in us. You know the guys (wideouts) were able to catch,” Mayfield said. “You know the fact that nobody picked us on game day, you see it in social media throughout the week that there were about 80 percent of the country voted for Ohio State to win. And so right now we believe in ourselves and quite frankly that’s all that matters.”
What also matters is that Oklahoma jumped up to No. 2 in the latest AP poll after its convincing win over the Buckeyes. But when the game started, Oklahoma didn’t look like one of the best squads in the nation.
Oklahoma squandered a pair of scoring opportunities in the first quarter that could have given them momentum. That includes fumbling on the Buckeyes 25 yard line with 5:29 left in the quarter.
The turnover came right after the Sooners converted a 4th and long to set them up in prime real estate.
Oklahoma added another turnover to start the second quarter when Jeff Badet misplayed a backward’s pass. Garrett drove the Buckeyes deep into Oklahoma territory before the Sooners stopped them inside the 10-yard line. Buckeyes were forced to settle for a field goal and a 3-0 lead with 11:11 left in the first half.
When the Oklahoma offense came back on the field it was without Mark Andrews. The big tight end injured his leg on the previous series and was done for the night.
That left Mayfield to use other players to exploit the middle of the OSU defense. He was able to get the Sooners down to the Buckeye’s 20-yard line before the offense stalled. Austin Seibert came in to kick a 35-yard field goal, but pulled it right. Ohio State kept its 3-0 advantage.
However, Oklahoma ended the first half with a 10 play drive. Yet, it only netted them a field goal to tie the game heading into halftime.
The missed scoring opportunities for Oklahoma in the first half came back to haunt them to start the second. OSU took the opening drive and stuff the ball down the Sooner’s throat to take a 10-3 lead. It took them only 2:23 to run seven plays.
However, Oklahoma came right back with a long drive of its own. But this time instead of turning the ball over or settling for field goals, Mayfield connected with Dimitri Flowers for a 36 yard touchdown.
On Oklahoma’s next possession, Mayfield hit Lee Morris for an 18 yard TD pass that put the Sooners up 17-13 with 2:17 left in the third quarter.
Mayfield and the Sooners were not done there. After the OU defense stopped the Buckeyes on fourth down, Mayfield led the offense down the field again for another score. This time he zipped in a bullet to Trey Sermon from 10 yards that put Oklahoma up by 11.
An interception by Parnell Motley set the Sooners up another touchdown that put Oklahoma up 31-13 and put the game away.
Against what many called the best defense in the nation, Oklahoma racked up 490 total yards. That includes Mayfield tossing for 386 yards and three touchdowns on 27 of 35 passing. Flowers led in receiving with seven catches and 98 yards. Badet overcame the early turnover to haul in five catches for 82 yards.
But it was the OU defense that made the biggest statement. They held the Buckeyes to 350 total yards and one touchdown.
“We got asked a lot about how we were going to handle the atmosphere,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “T me it’s not about handling it. It’s about embracing it. I think it’s something our players and staff really did. We were really looking forward to it. We love playing on the road. It’s a situation we don’t back down from.”
The Sooners host Tulane at 5 p.m. Saturday in the final non-conference game of the season.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com. This story first appeared in The Yukon Review.