Will having a Big 12 Championship game help or hurt No. 3 Oklahoma?
The Sooners (10-1, 7-1 in the Big 12), who sit alone atop the conference standings, play West Virginia (7-4, 5-3) at 2:45 p.m. Saturday in Norman. Last Saturday, OU swept past Kansas 41-3 while the Mountaineers fell to Texas, 14-28, in West Virginia.
Oklahoma has one of the spots in the championship game sewed up and will face either TCU or Iowa State. TCU would have to lose to Baylor (1-10, 1-7) on Friday and Iowa State would have to beat Kansas State in Manhattan for the Cyclones to play OU. A TCU win or a ISU loss puts the Horned Frogs in a rematch with OU in Dallas.
Last week, OU was ranked No. 4 in the College Football Rankings and the Sooners should stay in that top four this week with the win over Kansas.
Oklahoma is favored to beat West Virginia and should be favored over either No. 10 TCU or Iowa State. The issue whether Oklahoma has anything to gain this year by playing a rematch – especially if it is playing TCU in Dallas or playing Iowa State, the only team to beat Oklahoma this season.
An argument could be made that a win over TCU would boost OU’s resume and ensure they don’t drop out of the top four. But it is hard to beat the same team twice in one season, especially in a hostile environment just miles from TCU’s campus.
Winning takes care of these problems.
West Virginia quarterback Will Grier injured his hand and won’t play against OU.
And that’s what the Sooners did Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas.
The TV commentators tried to create a controversy after KU players refused to shake hands with OU quarterback Baker Mayfield at the pregame coin flip.
“You know, I’ve never seen that done,” said OU coach Lincoln Riley, whose brother is an assistant coach for KU. “I have no clue why it was done in this game, but it was. So I told them at half, ‘We’ve been in these (games), despite whatever happens, we’ve been in plenty of chippy games around here and we can’t let our emotions get the best of us.’ You’ve got to use it as fuel to play better, you can’t use it as a reason to do something dumb. Obviously, we had a couple things that we did with the penalties that aren’t us and that can’t happen.”
Later, TV cameras caught Mayfield making a rude gesture and he apologized after the game.
“I got caught up in a competitive, chippy game, but what I did was unacceptable,” Mayfield said of the gesture. “I am a competitive player but what I did was unacceptable. I apologize, it’s disrespectful, it’s not the example I want to set. It’s not the legacy I want to leave at OU. I truly do apologize.”
There was a lot of extracurricular friction in the game.
“It was a chippy game, and it was chippy from the second that their guys decided they didn’t want to shake our hands at the coin toss,” said Riley. “The chippiness started there. But despite all that, there’s no excuse for it. Baker is a competitive guy and let the emotions get the best of him; but again, (this was) a very, very chippy, emotional game. But again, we can’t have that and he can’t do that.”
Jayhawk defender Hasan Defense drew a personal foul after he hit Mayfield in the helmet. Defense should have been called for targeting and kicked out of the game.
“I was just trying to make a play in the heat of the moment,” Defense said. “It was a bonehead play by me and I shouldn’t have done it. It was a mistake by me; I didn’t realize how much longer (it was) after the ball that I hit him. It was a mistake by me and it won’t happen again.”
Defense said the friction was just a part of the game.
“We were just playing football and having fun,” Defense said. “That’s what happens when you play a physical sport. You’re not going to let anybody talk to you in a certain way. Football is a physical sport and whenever something gets physical, your mouth gets physical as well.”
Kansas coach David Beaty said right after the game that he wasn’t aware of the hit.
“Honestly, I did not see it,” said Beaty. “I was looking somewhere else. I’ll find out. We talked a little bit about that in general at halftime. We’ve got to be smarter than that.”
Mayfield, the overwhelming favorite for the Heisman Trophy, hit 20-of-30 passes for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions, and ran for 9 yards on four carries.
Mayfield’s three TD passes give him 122 in his collegiate career, passing the 121 mark of BYU’s Ty Detmer (1988-91) and Georgia’s Aaron Murray (2010- 13) for seventh in FBS history. His three touchdown passes give him 128 total TDs as a Sooner, breaking the school record previously held by Landry Jones (126).
Mayfield is 14-0 in true road games as a Sooner, completing 307-of-433 passes (70.9 percent) for 4,552 yards (325.1 per game) and 48 touchdowns against just eight interceptions (6-to-1 ratio) for a pass efficiency rating of 192.1.
Tight end Mark Andrews caught four passes for 42 yards and he now ranks 16th in OU history with 1,594 receiving yards. Tight end Grant Calcaterra set career-highs in receptions (4) and receiving yards (67).
OU running back Rodney Anderson had 77 yards on 16 carries and got his third receiving touchdown of the season.
Wideout CeeDee Lamb a career-long 21-yard punt return, the longest by a Sooner this season. Wide receiver Marquise Brown caught his fifth touchdown reception of the season with a 24-yard catch-and-run with 10 seconds left in the half. It was his fourth TD in the last five games.
LB Emmanuel Beal’s interception was OU’s seventh of the season and the Sooners have turned them into a total of 38 points (five touchdowns and a field goal).
Oklahoma has won 13 straight in the series with Kansas, its longest active win streak against another team. The Sooners have outscored the Jayhawks 548-146 in those games (average of 42-11) and have outgained them 6,368 yards to 3,155 (average of 490-243).
The last four games have seen OU win by a combined score of 203-20.
Oklahoma is 75-27-6 all-time against Kansas, including a 36-15-4 mark in Lawrence.
Riley has tied the Oklahoma record for most wins in a debut season, joining Barry Switzer (1973) and Chuck Fairbanks (1967) with 10 wins apiece.
The Sooners have won their last 12 games in the month of November.
Oklahoma leads all FBS programs with its 38 seasons of at least 10 wins. The Kansas win also marks OU’s nation-leading 15th season of double-digit wins since 2000.