Baker Mayfield takes on his former team for final time

LUBBOCK, TX - OCTOBER 22: Baker Mayfield
LUBBOCK, TX - OCTOBER 22: Baker Mayfield /

On Saturday night at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Oklahoma football will take the primetime stage as Baker Mayfield goes up against his former team one last time.

Mayfield has started 33 consecutive games at quarterback for Oklahoma and has led the Sooners to victory in 28 of those contests. On Saturday, he will quarterback the Sooners against Texas Tech for a third and final time. The fifth-year senior quarterback is 2-0 against his former team.

As most Sooner fans are aware, Mayfield transferred to OU from Texas Tech, where he started in seven games, including the Red Raiders’ first five games his freshman season. He is the only player in Texas Tech history to start a game at quarterback as a walk on.

Mayfield was the Big 12 Freshman Player of the Year in 2013, and he is likely to cap his outstanding college career as the All-Big 12 first-team quarterback and Offensive Player of the Year.

The uber-competitive Oklahoma QB elected to leave the Texas Tech program after his freshman season. His transfer to Oklahoma was not as surprising as it at first might seem. The Sooners were his favorite team while growing up in, of all places, Austin, Texas, the center of the Texas Longhorn Nation.

Mayfield walked on at Oklahoma, just as he had at Texas Tech. He did not play the 2014 season because of the NCAA transfer rule, but OU knew what it had in Mayfield because they witnessed it every day on the practice squad.

When Texas Tech played at Oklahoma in Mayfield’s freshman season, he was injured and did not play against his favorite childhood team. Oklahoma won that game, but not without a fight. The final score was 38-30.

The Red Raiders returned to Norman again in 2015, and this time Mayfield was at quarterback for Oklahoma. He outdueled his Red Raider counterpart, Patrick Mahomes, who is now with Kansas City in the NFL, completing 15 of 22 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns in a 63-27 Oklahoma victory.

And who will forget last season in the old-fashioned shootout at the Red Raider corral. Mayfield and Mahomes were at it again, throwing a combined 12 touchdown passes in a game in which both teams totaled over 800 yards of offense a piece. The Sooners outlasted the Red Raiders 66-59 in what will go down as the best offensive performance and worst defensive game of the Big 12 season.

Mahomes is gone this season, but Mayfield is back for one more go at it. And the Sooner quarterback is not the only one in the Oklahoma football program with ties to Texas Tech.

Texas Tech is the alma mater of first-year Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, in his first season as OU head coach. Like Mayfield, Riley walked on at Texas Tech as a quarterback in 2002 but remained on the roster just one season. Then Tech head coach Mike Leach, who was the Oklahoma offensive coordinator before becoming head coach of the Red Raiders, convinced Riley that his future would be better served in coaching.

Riley began as a student assistant and then a graduate assistant under Leach and spent seven seasons on the Texas Tech coaching staff. While Riley was at Texas Tech, he was joined by three other members of the present Sooner coaching staff.

Ruffin McNeill, OU’s assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach under Riley, coached the linebackers and eventually was made defensive coordinator in 10 seasons at Texas Tech. McNeill was also head coach at East Carolina, where Riley was offensive coordinator before coming to Oklahoma.

Sooner offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons also spent time under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. Bedenbaugh was there for seven seasons (2000-2006) and Simmons spent 10 seasons in Lubbock (2000-09) during the same time McNeill was there.

Saturday is homecoming at Oklahoma, and it will serve as a reunion of sorts for Mayfield and several members of the Sooner coaching staff. But don’t expect there to be any love loss between the Sooners and the visitors from West Texas.