By Michael Kinney
“We are built for November.”
That is the statement Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield uttered Monday as his fifth-ranked Sooners began preparation for their next biggest game of the season.
For those counting, Saturday’s contest against No. 6 TCU will be the Sooners third game of the season against a team ranked inside the top 12 and second from within the top 10.
The fact two of those games are coming on back to back weekends is why the Sooners call it Championship November.
“We’re built for November and this run right here. I think we’re ready for it. We’ve been talking about it all year; that we’re going to have to play well late in the year,” Mayfield said. “Right now, we’re doing just that. On to the next one for us. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
After taking on the prolific offense of Oklahoma State last week, the Sooners (8-1, 5-1) will get to host a defensive minded TCU (8-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
The Horned Frogs one loss of the season came at the hands of Iowa State, the same squad who beat Oklahoma.
With both teams having one loss, more than likely the loser of Saturday’s contest will be out of contention for the College Football Playoffs.
But the Sooners believe that type of pressure is what Championship November is all about. They saw the same situation during their 62-52 win over Oklahoma State last week.
However, those outside Big 12 country seem to be unimpressed with the way the Sooners have been winning games. Most of the shows on ESPN have taken their shots at OU’s defensive output this season and said it’s not championship worthy. Kirk Herbstreit, who is part of ESPN’s Gameday and calls ABC’s feature college football game of the week, said Oklahoma football looks more like 7 on 7 summer league.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley found himself not only defending the Sooners, but also the Big 12 when he appeared on ESPN’s Mike & Mike Wednesday morning.
“I think people need to begin to look at the other side of it,” Riley said. “The offenses in this league are that good. You’re going to face really, really good offenses each and every week, and you don’t do that in the other conferences. That’s just the fact of the matter. If any other conference was sitting there playing offenses like ours, Oklahoma State’s, Texas Tech’s, several of the others that you’ve got in this league, it would be a different story in those leagues too.”
Riley wasn’t done there. He took aim at the preconceived notions that other power five conferences are better equipped to be in the CFP than the Big 12.
“It’s the same defense that went on the road in Columbus, Ohio, and held one of the top offenses in the country 200 yards under their average and won that game,” Riley said. “It’s the same defense that went in the Sugar Bowl last year and really shut down Auburn.”
With Oklahoma ranked No. 88 in total defense, it will be hard for Riley’s comments to make converts of those who haven’t faced a Big 12 team. But one way to help their cause is to beat TCU, who is considered the one team in the conference to be balanced on both sides of the ball.
The Sooners could be heading into the game with a pair of freshman starting at cornerback after having to bench Parnell Motley and Jordan Thomas in favor of Tre Norwood and Tre Brown last week. Riley said the starters will be determined on how they practice.
But it was the Sooner Nation Mayfield who got called out by Mayfield to step up their game for the matchup Saturday.
“Being that it’s one of the last home games we’re going to have and it’s important to our College Football Playoff run, I’m going to call out our fans. It’s going to be an important one for us. Seven o’clock game, night game,” Mayfield said. “I don’t want to hear any talk about the 2008 Texas Tech game. This needs to be the new talk for the future. This crowd needs to be going. We give it our all week-in, week-out, I expect the fans to do the same for me on Saturday.”
- Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer for Eyeamtruth.com