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OU FOOTBALL: Air raid expected over Owen Field Saturday night

Jay LaPrete / AP
For the third time this year, Baker Mayfield was named the Big 12’s Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Sooners to a 42-35 victory over Kansas State last Saturday.
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OKLAHOMA CITY –Baker Mayfield is one of the best college football quarterbacks, ever. He set the NCAA quarterback efficiency rating (196.4) last year, and this year, he’s ahead of those numbers (200.4). Saturday night he gets a chance to win three straight games over his old team and coach (Kliff Kingsbury), who refused to give him a scholarship.

Since walking on to the Oklahoma football team, Mayfield has won 28 of 33 games, two straight Big 12 Championships, and named the league’s best quarterback the past two years. The Austin, Texas senior has a chance to beat his old team Texas Tech (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) again Saturday (7 p.m. ABC or ESPN2). The Red Raiders are 20-24 since Mayfield departed Lubbock.

Last weekend, the Sooners edged Kansas state, 42-35, after trailing most of the game. The Wildcats took a 21-10 lead in the first half by running the ball at will. KSU ran for 256 yards and had 316 total yards at the break. The Sooners’ defense settled down and held the Cats to 96 yards in the second half—12 on the ground.

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley got the team fired up in the locker room.

“…our guys, not that they responded to me, they responded to the situation and the challenge that we had after not playing our best in the first half,” Riley explained. “Our guys at halftime had a great look in their eye. They were determined to come out and play a lot better. But the mentality really went to another level there in the locker room at halftime. They were really ready to play.”

Mayfield took control of the second half by completing 20 of his 26 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for two TDs. Running back Rodney Anderson scored the winning TD—a 22-yard scamper with seven seconds remaining.

Anderson, who finished the game with 147 yards, has shown vast improvement after being sidelined with two injuries the past two years. Mayfield, who suffered a sore shoulder in the Texas game, did not practice during the week in preparation for the Wildcats. He finished the K-State game completing 32 of 41 for 410 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.

“It’s pretty remarkable, honestly,” Riley said of Mayfield’s ability without practicing. “It really is. People should take notice of that and not take it for granted. It’s hard to play at the level he’s playing at. He’s doing it with a new cast of skill guys. Show me somebody in the country that’s playing better.”

“I love to compete,” Mayfield said. “I always have and I always will. It’s in my DNA. No, really, I absolutely think my competitive nature is hereditary.”

No doubt Mayfield is going to compete to make sure he is 3-0 against his former team. Last year, he threw seven touchdowns in a 66-59 shootout in Lubbock. Mayfield has completed 74 percent of his passes for 757 yards and nine TDs against the Raiders.

A year ago, the Sooners went to Lubbock, Texas and defeated the Red Raiders, 66-59, in a game that lasted four hours and 10 minutes. OU and Tech each rolled up 854 yards. Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw the ball 88 times completed 52 for 734 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Texas Tech has a damn good passing offense, but the defense stinks. The Raiders rank seventh nationally with 514 yards per game; and seventh in passing with a 351.9 average. They have scored 40.3 (15th) points per outing.

Quarterback Nic Shimonek ranks 15th with a 160.4 passer rating. He’s completed 71 percent for 2,341 yards with a TD/INT ratio of 19/5. Five Tech receivers have at least double-digit receptions, and Keke Coutee leads the pack with 53 catches for 744 yards and 6 TDs. Tech averages 162.1 yards on the ground (65th). Justin Stockton leads with 495 yards and 4 TDs.

OU’s defense has allowed 374.3 yards per game (52nd); 227.9 through the air (76th) and they yet have to see a passer as good as Shimonek.

Oklahoma ranks second nationally with 382.3 passing yards per game. The Raiders are the fourth worst team in defending the pass allowing an average of 291.3 yards (127th). Tech has not seen a quarterback the likes of Mayfield this year. Baker has completed 74 percent of his passes this season for 2,347 yards with a TD/INT ratio of 19/2.

The No. 10 Sooners (6-1, 3-1) are better than Tech at running the ball. Anderson has come on strong lately to join Trey Sermon and Abdul Adams as the primary backs to carry the load. OU averages 199.4 rushing yards per game—5.4 per carry.

Oklahoma’s secondary will get a workout this weekend. Cornerback Parnell Motley has been a shutdown corner most of this year but had some slip-ups against K-State. Many receivers have breezed past Jordan Thomas at the other corner spot. He had a better game against the Cats and intercepted his first pass of the season that set up a field goal. Senior safeties Will Jordan and Steven Parker will play primary roles in helping the corners when passes come over the top.

Shimonek has shown tendencies to crack under pressure so the Sooners’ defensive line must help Obgonnia Okoronkwo and Caleb Kelly bring the heat.

OU’s offense should continue to roll, but no stupid penalties, and take care of the pigskin. The Red Raiders started 3-0 but have since lost three of four, including a 31-13 home loss to Iowa State last week, so they’ll battle for their pride.

The time is now for the Sooners to play a full 60 minutes. No big leads and coasting until the final whistle. No taking the opponent lightly and having to wait until halftime for Lincoln Riley to make another fiery locker room speech. Especially, since he also wants to defeat his old team. Riley is a graduate and former assistant from Texas Tech.

FAST FACTS

*OU leads the series 18-6, including five straight wins.

*OU is 10-2 in Norman, including two straight wins.

*OU is favored by 20.

*Riley’s coaching record: 6-1 (.857) overall; 0-0 vs, TTU 2-1 at home; 3-1 vs. Big 12 opponents.

*Kingsbury’s coaching record: 28-29 (.491) overall; 0-4 vs. OU; 11-12 on the road; 14-26 vs. Big 12 foes; 2-17 vs. ranked opponents.

*OU is 77-21-4 all-time on homecoming; 2-1 vs. TTU on homecoming.

*OU is 11-7 in games played on October 28.

*TTU is 8-2 in games played on October 28.

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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