Mayfield kept the ball late in Saturday night’s game against Baylor, opting for a pass play over the run on third-and-goal. He scrambled quickly to his left before doubling back to his right, toward the Baylor sideline. He gave ground to two oncoming defenders – something he’s done so often this season that it feels more common for him to escape potential tacklers than to be brought down.
All of it bought time for fullback Dimitri Flowers to find a soft spot in the zone at the goal line. Mayfield saw him. The play was all too familiar. Mayfield had done it over and over again.
This time, Mayfield was on a stage – a national championship stage, a conference title stage and a Heisman stage.
With a play that Mayfield, who came into the game as one of the top passers in the nation, has made more often than not, he created his Heisman moment. It’s time for the former double walk-on to get some attention for the most-prized trophy in college football.
“I don’t know how he wouldn’t,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “To play as well as he did and to make so many key big plays away from home in this environment against an undefeated team – I think there’s time for that and if he can continue having nights like he did tonight that that’ll happen.”
Mayfield doesn’t care about the Heisman hype he’s starting to build with plays like Saturday's game-sealing effort. All he’s focused on is the Big 12 Championship for the team.
“If the team’s doing good, you expect the players who are playing a lot to be in the awards,” Mayfield said. “I mean, if it happens, good for me. But if not, I could care less.”
What’s getting Mayfield attention after a 44-34 victory against Baylor are the same plays that he has been making all season. He won the Sooners’ game against Tennessee with his legs and his arms. He kept the Sooners alive on multiple occasions in big victories during the last month.
Mayfield ran for 100 yards on the ground but was sacked three times, something that happens because of his desire to extended plays. Stoops says it happens more often to Oklahoma because of Mayfield’s never-say-die mentality.
“His ability to scramble out of some things is different than other guys and you’ve got to live with those. Sometimes he gets trapped in the pocket and can’t make something happen and you’re going to have some of those. He makes far more plays getting out of the pocket than just throwing the ball away or surrendering. That’s how it goes.”
About the only thing that was different from past plays Mayfield has made was Flowers, who wasn’t supposed to be in the passing tree before the play. Flowers was supposed to block. He didn’t even have a route.
But like his quarterback, Flowers improvised and gave Mayfield a game-sealing, Heisman-style highlight.
Mayfield doesn’t care about the Heisman Trophy, but it’s still something he has dreamed about.
“That’s something you dream of, whether it’s playing prime time on Saturday night,” Mayfield said. “If I was to go to New York that means our team has won out and we’re playing really well. If that happens, that would be fun. That would be a dream come true. But right now, it’s all about TCU next week.”
Oklahoma’s shutdown corner
The Sooners had their hands full trying to contain Baylor receiver Corey Coleman, who came into the game leading the nation in receiving yards per game and receiving touchdowns.
Most of the responsibility fell on cornerback Jordan Thomas. Coleman finished with just three catches for 51 yards – less than half of his reception average and nearly 100 yards shy of his average yardage.
“JT is the best corner in the Big 12 right now, by far. One of the best in the country,” Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez said. “His confidence is there. That was a big thing for him. Once he got his confidence, his ability speaks for itself. He has all the intangibles. He's a smart, instinctive player. He's big. He got in Corey's face and did his job.”
Both of Coleman’s totals were season-lows.
Finding a way to stop the run
On the first drive of the game for Baylor, the Bears ran for 61 yards – running back Shock Linwood had 51. Oklahoma shut down Baylor from there as the Bears finished with just 159 yards on the ground and the rest of the game.
Linwood had 103 yards, barely exceeding his total from the first drive.
“A little bit of scheme, but mostly our execution against them – tacking and leverage,” Stoops said of why they slowed down Baylor’s run game, which was averaging more than 300 yards on the ground. “We also needed to make a few adjustments up front.”
Dimon gets rough
Oklahoma defensive lineman Matt Dimon got caught in the bottom of a pile after an extra point and lost his head, kicking a Baylor player who was on the ground next to him.
For that, he was rightfully ejected – nearly setting off a series of miscues that cost Oklahoma its early lead.
“Really disappointed in some of the discipline of my guys with some of the really foolish penalties we’ve had. We’ve gotta learn from or they’ll get us or could have (Saturday).”
Dimon’s ejection capped a series in the second quarter that included an interception and Baylor’s game-tying touchdown. Ultimately, it didn’t hurt Oklahoma, which managed two sacks without its starting defensive end.
Sanchez makes his return
After three games on the bench with an ankle injury, Sooners starting cornerback Zack Sanchez made his return to the line-up. He said afterwards that he was 100 percent in the game but was in a boot following the victory.
He said the ankle felt “good,” but there was a little bit of pain.
“It was huge,” Sanchez said of getting back on the field. “Sitting out for three weeks isn't fun. I've been itching to get back out there with my guys, especially how well they've been playing. I wanted to get in on the fun. It was huge to get me back and see how the ankle was feeling. To get back and playing at 100 percent was a lot of fun, moving full speed.”
Sanchez was burnt once in the game but lucked out when the Baylor receiver dropped the pass in the end zone. Later, he picked off Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham.