Everybody knew it was coming. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield knew it was coming. It was no shock to anybody involved when the first question this week addressed to him was about treating Texas Tech like any other game.
Mayfield’s history with the Red Raiders has been well documented. From walking-on to with the program in 2013 and winning the starting quarterback job to being replaced and transferring to OU after the season, the story has been told time and time again.
Mayfield is done with it.
“Yep. Just another game,” Mayfield said. “I can’t treat it any differently. I mean, yeah, obviously I have a past and a history with him, but I can’t treat it any differently. I’ve just got to go out and practice like it’s a normal one.”
The him Mayfield is referring to is Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. For whatever reason, Mayfield and Kingsbury just never saw eye-to-eye during their time together in Lubbock.
Mayfield said it’s human nature to try and get revenge, but the biggest thing for him this week is focusing on doing his job and only his job to help the Sooners earn win No. 6 this season.
The first half of the season has been highlighted by Mayfield and his maturity, on and off the field. He hasn’t lost that swag or confidence, but he has backed it up with his play on the field. He’ll be tested in that department like never before on Saturday.
“Of course it’s easier said than done,” offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. “That’s where a guy like Baker having already been through it and all the ups and downs and twists and turns he’s had, that’s where all that has to pay off right now.”
One thing that has sort of taken away the venom from this matchup is how it’s hard to be angry with how things have worked out. Mayfield found new life in Norman, while you know nobody at Texas Tech is arguing with the production of Patrick Mahomes.
“I feel like I’ve moved on,” Mayfield said. “I mean no conflict. I know they’re happy now. Patrick is playing really well. He’s a guy that’s a good athlete and always has been.”
Mayfield was all smiles and saying all the right things until asked about the Tech coaches. It’s common for a player to transfer and still remain friends with former teammates. Happens all the time, and it has definitely happened with Mayfield.
And it’s common for a player to transfer from a program and not keep in touch with the former coaches. But Mayfield, and other OU players, admitted two weeks ago to still keeping in touch with former OU receivers coach Jay Norvell.
As for Tech? The smile came off Mayfield’s face.
“No communication,” Mayfield said.
Two words. Clear answer. He’ll be treating it as another game, but it seems like it will be tough to juggle all those emotions going through him.
He won’t have to do it alone. His teammates made it pretty clear they’ll be bringing something a little special as well in support of Mayfield this weekend.
“He’s definitely amped and ready to go, but who wouldn’t be?” cornerback Zack Sanchez said. “Bake is a competitor. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. He’s going to be amped up, but I think it’s just a little more this week from him coming from there.
“I’d be the same way or anybody else at this level. Bake’s probably more excited than anybody to play them.”
One way to make life easier on Mayfield and the running storyline is going to be for OU’s receivers to have another solid game. The Sooners had 12 different players makes a catch in the 55-0 shutout against Kansas State.
Mayfield has no problems trying to do it all by himself, but when the offense is humming like it was last week, he won’t have to shoulder that load.
“He’s playing his old guys and a couple of guys in the locker room have had that feeling so we know what it’s like,” senior wide receiver Sterling Shepard said. “We’re going to go out there and give it our all and try to help him out.”