OU football: Upshot of Sooners’ signature win over Ohio State


Never doubt a highly motivated team with a collective chip on its shoulder. That is the big takeaway from the impressive OU football win Saturday night over one of the teams believed to be a prime contender for the 2017 College Football Playoff.

Oklahoma dominated Ohio State and came away from Ohio Stadium with a 31-16 victory that virtually no one saw coming except perhaps the staunchest of Sooner supporters.

The Sooners rolled up 490 yards of total offense against an Ohio State defensive unit touted to be one of the best in the nation. Unlike a year ago, when quarterback Baker Mayfield made some poor decisions, holding on to the ball too long and forcing a couple of throws that ended up being intercepted and led to a pair of Buckeye touchdowns, the OU team leader was charged up and focused from the get go. He completed 27 of 35 passes for 386 yards and three second-half touchdowns.

The vaunted Ohio State pass rush was very real and scary, as advertised, and in Mayfield’s face throughout the game, but the fifth-year senior and former walk-on maintained his composure and was able to keep plays alive with his feet and his uncanny ability to find open receivers and fire accurately on the run.

As he did in the Sooners’ season-opening win over UTEP (University of Texas-El Paso), Mayfield distributed the ball to nine different receivers, and six of the nine are freshmen or sophomores.

The Oklahoma offense was so effective against the Buckeyes that the Sooners were forced to punt just once in the game.

Playing before a highly partisan Buckeye crowd reported to be just over 109,000 — the largest crowd in Oklahoma football history — would be intimidating for even a wily veteran, but the Sooners took the field at the famed Horseshoe with a number of starters who were in either their first or second season of college football. And a pair of true freshmen were key contributors in Oklahoma’s imposing road victory.

Freshman wide receiver CeeDee Lamb caught five passes, several in critical possessions, for 61 yards, and running back Trey Sermon, also in his first college season, had some big second-half runs, accounting for 64 rushing yards.

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With the score tied at 3-3, Ohio State return specialist Parris Campbell ran the second-half kickoff back 56 yards, and the Buckeyes covered the final 44 yards in seven plays to take a 10-3 lead. At that point, it appeared Ohio State had captured its missing mojo and was ready to take control of the game.

Instead, it was the Sooners who took charge of the game. Mayfield engineered a 67-yard scoring drive in five plays, the final 36 coming on a touchdown pass to senior fullback Dimitri Flowers, to knot the score at 10. The Buckeyes responded with a 24-yard field goal to regain a three-point advantage, but that was the last time they would lead in the game.

Flowers caught a career-high seven passes on Saturday for 98 yards. Used primarily as a blocking back and pass protector, the senior fullback had just 11 receptions all of last season.

From there, Oklahoma scored 21 unanswered points to put the game away and figuratively thumb its nose at all who had doubted the Sooners chances to pull off the upset.

The victory proved to be sweet revenge for an Oklahoma team that was embarrassed by Ohio State just one year ago, giving up 45 points in a 21-point loss in Norman, only the ninth time in 18 seasons at OU that then head coach Bob Stoops had lost a game at home.

The much-anticipated heavyweight matchup between the Oklahoma offensive line and the Ohio State defensive line, considered the best in college football this season, went to the Sooners on a unanimous decision. Defense may win championships, but it doesn’t if the offense it is going up against is markedly better, which the Sooners were on this September night in the Ohio valley.

The Ohio State loss was the worst suffered by the Buckeyes at home since losing to Illinois 46-20 in 1999 and marked only the second time in Oklahoma’s storied football history that the Sooners have beaten a nonconference opponent ranked No. 1 or 2 in the Associated Press poll on the road.

The all-time series between Ohio State and Oklahoma is now up to four games and, interestingly, all four games have been won by the road team. The Sooners have won twice in Columbus, and likewise for the Buckeyes in Norman.

Mayfield is now a phenomenal 10-0 in road games as the starting quarterback, and the victory extended the Sooners’ winning streak to 12 consecutive games, the longest active win streak among FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) teams.