Baker Mayfield Is 4th Sooner QB in Last 4 Games vs. Baylor


Baker Mayfield will make his second career start at quarterback against the Baylor Bears on Saturday, but his first as an Oklahoma Sooner.

Mayfield was the starting quarterback for Texas Tech as a walk-on his freshman season when the Red Raiders played at Baylor late in the regular season in 2013. In that game, he threw for 314 yards, completing 28 of 51 passes. Tech lost the game 63-34, with Mayfield accounting for 24 of the Red Raiders’ 34 points on four touchdown passes.

That game was played at the old Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco. Mayfield gets a second crack at Baylor in Waco this season, but as the starting quarterback for a much better team in Oklahoma and playing at the Bears new on-campus home field, McLane Stadium, which will be a first for both Mayfield and the Sooners.

The Sooners have had three different starting quarterbacks in their last three games with Baylor. Landry Jones was the OU quarterback the last time the Sooners defeated Baylor, 45-38, in a game played in Norman in 2012. Blake Bell was the starter when the two teams met the following year in Waco (a 41-12 Baylor win) and Trevor Knight started the game last season in Norman, won by the Bears going away, 48-14.

Oct 24, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) warms up prior to action against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mayfield, a junior from Austin, Texas, is averaging 312 passing yards a game this season as the OU starting quarterback and he is tied for second in the Big 12 with 28 touchdown passes. That 312-yard passing average is double what Oklahoma has had throwing the football in its last two games against Baylor. Mayfield’s 70 percent completion percentage is the best among Big 12 quarterbacks and ranks third in the nation.

Coming from the Texas Tech offense, Mayfield was an ideal fit for OU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley’s new Air Raid offense, the same style of passing attack that Riley helped put in place as an assistant coach under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. Mayfield’s numbers have gotten better every time out this season, and he is playing at a high level right now.

“He’s got an arm that can make all the throws,” Riley said in commenting about his quarterback’s play in the win over Iowa State. “He can pump them down the field, he can throw the touch balls, he can throw in tight windows in the quick game.”

Although he grew up in the backyard of the University of Texas and walked on at Texas Tech, Mayfield was an Oklahoma football fan throughout most of his childhood.

“He’s got an arm that can make all the throws.” —Lincoln Riley, OU offensive coordinator

Baylor has allowed 200 or more yards passing in only two of eight games this season, but the Bears’ defense gave up 530 passing yards to Pat Mahomes of Texas Tech. By comparison, Oklahoma held the Red Raiders and Mahomes to 253 yards through the air.

Mayfield’s pass efficiency rating (186.8) is just a tick below what Baylor starting QB Seth Russell’s had before he suffered a season-ending injury two games ago. Russell and Mayfield rank one and two in the conference in that category. Freshman Jarrett Stidham, Russell’s replacement, has an even higher rating (229.0), but most of his time this season has been as a backup in garbage time. His only start came last week against Kansas State. Stidham’s completion average is 77 percent. That compares with Mayfield’s 70.2 percent.

Besides his passing ability, Mayfield also is adept at eluding tacklers and extending plays and making things happen with his legs. He is a bigger threat to run with the football than Stidham. Mayfield has 225 yards rushing to go with his passing numbers this season, and he has no problem tucking the ball and taking off with it when the situation warrants.

The Oklahoma quarterback will definitely have his work cut out for him on Saturday against the reigning Big 12 co-champions and for the two weeks thereafter, when it gets no easier with TCU and Oklahoma State as the opponents.

The ESPN Football Power Index ranks Oklahoma’s final three-game schedule as the most difficult in college football. Should the Sooners find a way to make it through that gauntlet unscathed, they would be every bit as worthy as a one-loss Notre Dame or a one-loss Alabama for one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff national semifinals set for New Year’s Eve.