There are days when some players just decide not to lose. Regardless of the ineptitude of those around them or the overwhelming odds, sometimes guys can just put a team on their shoulders and carry it over the finish line.
Joe Mixon, Dede Westbrook and Baker Mayfield bailed the Sooners out last night. It’s hard to know what was going through their minds when they watched Patrick Mahomes cut through their defense like a knife through butter, but each time they simply strapped their helmets back on and did something incredible again.
Baker, for one, set a new OU record with 7 passing touchdowns in the contest, going 27-for-36 for 545 yards. With the entire crowd focused on him, Baker played one of the best games of his life.
Dede proved unstoppable once again, ending the day with 9 catches for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns.
And goodness gracious, Joe. Mixon knew the backfield was his alone on Saturday night, and he got 31 touches to work with. He finished with 263 rushing yards, 114 receiving yards, 5 total touchdowns and he averaged 8.5 yards per carry. He’s the first player in OU history with 200 rush yards and 100 receiving yards in the same game.
It was the first time in Sooners history that they had a 500-yard passer, a 200-yard receiver and a 200-yard rusher in the same contest. Sure, Nick Basquine and Geno Lewis had some nice moments, but for the most part, Lincoln Riley put the burden squarely on these three and they answered the call every single time.
Which, as it turns out, they had to—or the Sooners would have lost.
After struggling against West Virginia, I think most people expected the Red Raiders offense to have a better day against OU and its questionable secondary. And a better day would have been fine. No, instead the Red Raiders had a historically great offensive performance, and Tech QB Patrick Mahomes set the all-time NCAA record for all-purpose yards, finishing with 822.
In one sense, you have to hand it to Kliff Kingsbury. That dude completely abandoned the running game, and guys not named “Mahomes” only got 8 carries all night. Mahomes nearly set a new NCAA record for pass attempts, throwing as many times—88—as Kyle Hendricks threw pitches in his series-clinching start for the Chicago Cubs last night.
Normally, when a team decides to go one-dimensional, the defense immediately has the advantage. But at night in Lubbock, with Mike Stoops in the press box, crazy things happen. And happen they did.
Now, let me just say—was that defensive performance acceptable? Absolutely not. Did Mike have these guys ready to play? Sure didn’t look like it, no. Did he make adjustments? He threw a lot of different guys out there but other than that, no.
Yeah, Mike was rolling with a true freshman at one corner spot and working through injuries. The thing is, though—his guys weren’t even in that bad of position half the time.
Like late in the second quarter, when Jonathan Giles snagged a ball off his fingertips to beat Kahlil Haughton into the end zone. Mahomes put the ball where only Giles could get it, and even he barely did. Or the Reggie Davis touchdown with 9:30 left in the third quarter—Mahomes dropped it right over his shoulder, right in stride and just barely in bounds. Or the Giles TD at the 4:11 mark in the third, when Ahmad Thomas tried to pick the ball off instead of batting it down even though he was standing right next to Giles.
Yes, Mike’s cushions and lack of pressure put his defense in a horrible position last night. And the lightning-fast OU offense left them little time to catch their breath. But last night’s failure was an indictment of the players as well as the staff, with poor tackling and bad technique giving the Raiders every 50/50 ball.
Which, at the end of the day, probably comes back to the coaching staff anyway.
So here, I’ll say it: It’s been fun, Mike, and we had some good times together, but you need to go. Take your 10-yard cushions and your 3-4 and go take the Purdue job or something. Because when #SoonerSquad17 gets here, we’ll need a coach who can maximize their talent, and we haven’t seen that from you lately.
Games like this won’t matter when Kansas comes to town. But Baylor and West Virginia have to be licking their chops at the prospect of breaking more records against this woeful Sooners defense.
Let’s just hope our offensive superstars don’t get tired out.