Things are looking good for No. 3 Oklahoma.
By dispatching then-No. 6 TCU 38-20 Saturday night in Norman, the Sooners (9-1 overall, 6-1 in the Big 12) stand alone atop the Big 12 Conference standings.
“We’re getting better and better,” said OU quarterback Baker Mayfield. “We’re getting better at the right time of the year. That’s pretty scary for other teams right now.”
OU closes the season with a very winnable game at Kansas this Saturday and then a home game against West Virginia. If they win just one of those games, the Sooners will get a spot in the Big 12 Championship. If they win both, that also keeps alive hopes for a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff.
As it stands, if TCU wins both of their final games against Texas Tech Saturday and then Baylor, the Horned Frogs will play OU in the title game.
“We need to win two ballgames,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “We still control our own destiny, so it starts with Texas Tech.”
If Oklahoma State beats Kansas State on Saturday and then Kansas, the Cowboys could get in the title game but only if TCU loses again. That’s because they would be tied with TCU and TCU won their game against OSU.
So, if OU can beat Kansas, West Virginia and win a rematch with TCU, the Sooners would win the conference and almost certainly get a spot in the playoff.
Any loss in the next three games would damage that scenario for OU.
Oklahoma travels to Kansas for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday against Kansas on ESPN.
After beating Southeast Missouri State 38-16 to open the season, Kansas has lost nine straight games and they sit at the bottom of the Big 12 standings. They were shut out by Iowa State (0-45) and TCU (0-43) and managed only nine points in the 9-38 loss to previously winless Baylor.
The Jayhawk defense is surrendering 38.2 points per game and they still have to play OU and Oklahoma State – two of the most prolific offenses in college football. Last season, OU blasted Kansas 56-3 with Mayfield passing for 236 yards and four scores.
On the other hand, Oklahoma’s 38 points in the first half tied a season high, set last week against Oklahoma State.
OU’s offensive domination in the first half gave Patterson flashbacks to a 35-10 loss in Norman in 2008. The Horned Frogs trailed 28-3 at halftime in that game.
“It was like 2008 with Sam Bradford,” Patterson said. “We spotted them too many points, and finally when we woke up, it was too late. We have to give Oklahoma credit. They got out and outplayed us. We didn’t do a great job of tackling in the first half.”
TCU entered the game allowing just 13.9 points per game and had given up just 24 total points over the last four games. OU scored 17 points in the first quarter and 38 in the first half. The 38 points were the most allowed in a game by TCU since OU’s 52-46 win last season (a span of 17 games).
TCU was also allowing a nation-best 69.7 yards per game entering the contest and had not given up a rushing TD over the last five games, but Oklahoma ran for 96 yards and two scores on 15 carries (6.4 average) in the first half. OU finished the game with 200 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries.
OU running back Rodney Anderson was a one-man wrecking crew against TCU.
Anderson ran 23 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns and caught a personal best five passes for a career-high 139 yards and two more scores. His 290 all-purpose yards were a career high and rank 11th best in school history.
Anderson became the third player in OU history to record 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in the same game. The others to do it were Joe Mixon (263 rushing yards, 114 receiving yards vs. Texas Tech in 2016) and Steve Sewell (153 rushing, 142 receiving vs. Kansas State in 1984)
Anderson joined former Sooner DeMarco Murray as the only two players in school history to have two rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns in the same half. Murray did it against Kansas State in 2008.
“He was tremendous tonight,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said of Anderson. “He was awesome. He’s got a unique skill set in that he can do it all — bring the power, ran through a lot of tackles and a couple of tremendous catches. He’s been awesome for us several weeks in a row.”
Mayfield, currently the consensus top pick for the Heisman Trophy, completed 18-of-27 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, and ran for 50 yards on 11 carries. Mayfield appeared to hurt his leg in the first half but it didn’t sideline him.
Mayfield has thrown a touchdown pass in a school-record 36 consecutive games (every contest of his OU career) to tie Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell for the longest streak in Big 12 history. Mayfield has also thrown at least two TD passes in a Big 12-record 23 straight contests (71 TDs to 13 interceptions during the span).
Mayfield has 31 TD passes on the season and 14,542 career yards of total offense.
Earlier last week, Mayfield challenged the OU fans to show up and be loud. Attendance was 88,308, the largest crowd in stadium history and the 13th largest to ever see the Sooners play. It marked OU’s 115th straight sellout, or every game since the start of the 1999 season.
National pundits say Big 12 teams can’t play defense but the Sooners took issue with those comments.
Three OU freshman defensive backs made their first career starts – safety Robert Barnes and cornerbacks Tre Brown and Tre Norwood – as the OU defense rose to the occasion and held TCU to 20 points.
“I think we answered a lot of those questions, Lincoln Riley said. “Like last week, this was two really, really good football teams. Two of the best teams in college football going at it.”
OU kicker Austin Seibert was perfect against TCU. His eight points Saturday gives him 316, surpassing Tim Duncan (313) for seventh in OU history. Seibert moved ahead of R.D. Lashar (196) for second in program history with 199 career extra points made. He made a career-long 49-yard field goal in the first quarter (previous long was 46 yards) That was his eighth consecutive make. It was also the longest field goal for the Sooners since Michael Hunnicutt made a 53-yard attempt against Kansas State in 2011.
“I can’t imagine in this second half of the season there’s been a better one (special teams player) across the country,” Riley said.
Oklahoma improved to 13-5 all-time against TCU, including a 5-4 mark in Norman. Since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012, OU is 5-1 in the series.
OU has won 22 of its last 23 Big 12 games dating back to the 2015 season. Its only loss came at the hands of Iowa State on Oct. 7.