In a game where much of the attention was focused on the quarterbacks, it was Oklahoma's running backs who stole the show. Sophomore Samaje Perine and freshman Joe Mixon combined for 355 rushing yards and six touchdowns as the Sooners rolled past Texas Tech 63-27.
Oklahoma averaged 7.1 yards per carry and the Red Raiders had no response. In fact, the only way Tech could consistently slow to the Sooner offensive attack was to have players "take a dive" so the defense could catch their breath while trainers tended to the "cramping" player. It was a routine that became a bit comical, as the game wore on into the second half, but was also ineffective as OU cranked off run after run.
"We had a lot of big holes and guys were running through some tackles," Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. "As they started to load the box a little bit, our guys were good enough to make guys miss and run through tackles pretty consistently all day. That's what was given to us and that's been our goal.
Mixon got Oklahoma on the board in the first quarter with an 11-yard spurt, and Oklahoma would never relinquish the lead. Perine made it a 14-0 lead, following an Eric Striker interception, when he plunged in from three yards out, dragging multiple Red Raider defenders with him. The two would swap touchdowns again in the second quarter to help the Sooners build a 28-17 lead at the break.
Perine would score two more times in the second half and OU took complete control of the game over the final thirty minutes as they wrecked the Tech defense. Twenty-three carries for 201 yards and four touchdowns was how Perine's final stat line read, following a game that closely resembled last season's punishing ground attack. He was complimented by Mixon, who went for 154 yards and two scores on sixteen carries, as the perfect "change of pace" back.
Riley was correct when he said that they were going to take what Tech gave them offensively and you get the sense that OU could have won this game without ever having to throw the ball. Texas Tech entered the game with the Big 12's worst rush defense and left Norman having suffered even further setbacks against an Oklahoma team that seems to just now be learning to run the ball in Riley's new offense. At the end of the day, though, it was the best performance on the ground for OU this year as they went for 405 yards as a team.
As for the subplot to the game, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 15-of-22 passes for 212 yards and two scores against his former team, while current quarterback Patrick Mahomes struggled to find consistency. One of the nation's top performing quarterbacks coming into the game, Mahomes was held to just 26-of-40, for 233 yards, and one score (He also had a rushing touchdown), but it was his four interceptions that hurt the Tech offense more than anything else.
"Any time you give up 400 yards rushing and throw four interceptions, there are very few positives to be had," Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury said.
Mayfield found tight end Mark Andrews for a 13-yard strike, on Oklahoma's opening drive of the second half, to record his first touchdown pass against Tech. Later on in the quarter he connected with Durron Neal from 15 yards out to put OU up 49-27.
While Mayfield didn't need to play a huge role in Oklahoma's offensive success, Mahomes certainly did for the Red Raiders. You won't be able to define either of these guy's careers by one game but there was a lot more to be positive about what Mayfield did on Saturday than his counterpart from Texas Tech.
Quarterbacks - Mayfield made a bad decision on his interception (Stoops actually said after the game that it was the receiver's mistake) but still did what he does best, which is put Oklahoma in the position to win. Overall Grade: B+
Running Backs - These guys literally stole the show, and were literally unstoppable. Coincidentally it was the first time Oklahoma had two players crack 100 yards in the same game since the Sooners played at Texas Tech last season. Overall Grade: A+
Receivers/Tight Ends - Way too many drops on Saturday to score an A+ and Jarvis Baxter's fumble will drop them down another notch. They did block well downfield and I guess Mark Andrews is becoming a bit of a touchdown machine. Five of his ten receptions on the season have gone for scores. Overall Grade: B
Offensive Line - Still some work to be done here but this group has shown significant improvement over the last two weeks. Overall Grade: A