The stakes were undoubtedly high when No. 5 Oklahoma made their way to Stillwater to take on No. 11 Oklahoma State. With the Big 12 championship race coming down the final stretch on the way to the championship game, neither team could likely afford a second loss in conference play.
That made Saturday afternoon’s contest a likely must-win game to keep the Big 12 and College Football Playoff hopes alive. And when the stakes are high, Baker Mayfield has proven he’s worthy of the challenge.
Mayfield passed for a school-record 598 yards with five touchdowns, and rushed for a score on the ground as well, in a wild and crazy 62-52 victory in this year’s edition of Bedlam. Mayfield’s record-setting day to lead his team to a pivotal win — to improve to 8-1 — could not have come on a better day because of the ramifications it has in the Big 12 race and the College Football Playoff picture, and how the day unfolded for a number of other players vying for the Heisman Trophy.
This should help Baker Mayfield's Heisman campaign. pic.twitter.com/nqJrnRKkZL
— ESPN (@espn) November 5, 2017
For starters, Mayfield won and did so on the road against a ranked opponent. Penn State running back Saquon Barkley couldn’t say that. Neither could Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett (who also suffered a head-to-head loss against Mayfield earlier in the year). Nor could Stanford running back Bryce Love. All three of those players lost on the road in crucial games.
Barkley had 96 yards from scrimmage against Michigan State and saw his 15-game touchdown streak snapped in a last-second loss in East Lansing a little more than seven hours after the game kicked off. Barrett was picked off on the first play of the game and was on the wrong end of a 55-24 beatdown against Iowa. Penn State’s loss drops Barkley out of the playoff hunt entirely, while Barrett and Ohio State could have been dealt a near fatal blow as well.
Love rushed for 69 yards and a score, but Stanford dropped their third game of the year to take a little steam out of the hype train running on the west coast (and it may be too late for Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate to make up enough ground).
One player also on the Heisman radar has been Notre Dame running back Josh Adams. And even though Notre Dame came away with a 48-37 victory over Wake Forest, Adams had just five carries for 22 yards after being knocked out of the game with a concussion.
Go ahead and throw any other players you feel are worthy of Heisman consideration. It won’t matter now, because Mayfield is the one they will all be chasing on their way to New York after this weekend.
Baker Mayfield is gonna be a great NFL quarterback…I'm just sayin! #600yards ?
— Michael Vick (@MichaelVick) November 5, 2017
#OU star Baker Mayfield on the road vs 2 Top 15 teams: 984 yards passing, a ridiculous 13.9 yds per attempt, 8 TDs, 2 INTs. Two wins.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 5, 2017
Mayfield has never lacked for confidence, and his personality may rub some people the wrong way, but no player in the country has been able to go on the road and score major wins to lead his team into a conference title hunt while in pursuit of a return to the College Football Playoff. Mayfield has led his team to a revenge win at Ohio State. He outlasted Mason Rudolph and Oklahoma State. Mayfield is 2-0 against fellow Heisman candidates, and he is not done making his case just yet.
Mayfield and Oklahoma host No. 8 TCU next week in what could potentially be a Big 12 championship game preview. A win against the Horned Frogs, and there will be very little standing in the way of Mayfield’s trip to New York City at the end of the season. And the way the season is playing out, he could very well be the favorite when he arrives in the Big Apple. He is for now, at least.