OU’s Run at All the Marbles in Jeopardy If Baker Mayfield Can’t Play


Say what you want, but if Baker Mayfield is unable to play Saturday in Bedlam at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma’s chances of completing a hat trick against the Big 12’s biggest football powers will be in serious peril.

Not to mention the Sooners chances of taking home a ninth Big 12 championship and a potential invite to the College Football Playoff, two grand accomplishments that are right there for the taking and over which the Sooners have some control. But only if they are able to garner a win over Oklahoma State.

With Mayfield running the offense at the quarterback position for Oklahoma, the Sooners have won 10 of 11 games this season, amassing more than 500 yards of offense and victories in each of the last six games. He is in the top-five in the nation in passing efficiency and passing touchdowns and in the top-10 in yards per completion. He has thrown for 33 touchdowns in 11 games with only five interceptions.

Nov 21, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) reacts after the game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Mayfield is the prime reason the Oklahoma offense has been so explosive and among the nation’s best in 2015. But his availability to play in the Bedlam game, which in effect will serve as a de facto conference championship game in a league that does not hold an official championship game. is uncertain.

The Oklahoma starting quarterback sustained a significant blow to the head when he absorbed a helmet-to-helmet tackle by TCU linebacker Ty Simmons in the second quarter that resulted in an ejection for Simmons and forced Mayfield to the sidelines for the second half of Saturday’s game with visiting TCU.

Mayfield remained in the game after suffering the hit and finished the half, but was clearly feeling its ill effects. He was seen wincing and opening a closing his eyes immediately afterward. Displaying his toughness, which has been his character all season, he still managed to throw a 36-yard touchdown strike to Dede Westbrook a couple of possessions after the hit.

During halftime, the team medical personnel re-examined Mayfield, and when he said he had a headache the decision was made to sit him down for the remainder of the game.

As of Monday morning, there is no definitive word regarding Mayfield’s availability for Saturday. That decision probably won’t come until later in the week as Mayfield undergoes the appropriate medical evaluation required concussion protocol under NCAA rules. The Oklahoma City Oklahoman reported in its Monday editions that Mayfield had passed the concussion tests, and the early indications were good that he would be able to play against Oklahoma State on Saturday

If Mayfield is ruled out for the game, backup Trevor Knight would get the call. When Knight was in the game in the second half on Saturday, however, the Sooner offense went stale very quickly. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley admitted after Saturday’s close call against TCU that he got too conservative in the second half and wasn’t as aggressive in his play calling as he should have been.

It is also worth noting, though, that Knight is a very different type of quarterback than Mayfield. Knight seems to be more comfortable in a zone-read style of offense, which is what the Sooners ran prior to Riley replacing Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell in the OC position.

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Knight started a number of games for the Sooners in 2013-14, and it appears that he had the game of his life in Oklahoma’s signature victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl a couple of years ago. I recall that he also played exceptionally well late that season in a big road win at Kansas State, but other than those two games, the Sooners have not been all that spectacular on offense with Knight at quarterback.

Riley points out that it was a much closer call than people think when Mayfield got the nod over Knight as the starting quarterback at the beginning of this season. Knight has shown the ability to make all the plays in the Sooners’ playbook, Riley says. If that is true, he appeared pretty rusty in the role Saturday night, even with the vanilla play calling on the part of the OU offensive coordinator.

Both head coach Bob Stoops and Riley have said this season that they have full confidence in all three of their active quarterbacks – Cody Thomas, along with Knight and Mayfield. That may be the case, and Oklahoma is fortunate that all three have seen live game action, even started games for the Sooners, which is something that a number of teams can’t say.

The bottom line, though, is that Mayfield clearly gives the Sooners the best chance to win in Bedlam at Oklahoma State on Saturday night. His long-term health is considerably more important, though, than any football game, even one with everything on the line like will be the case in Stillwater this weekend.

The indications look favorable at this time that Mayfield will be back at his familiar position on the field and leading the Sooner offense on Saturday.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed in hopes that all’s well that ends well.