Often in big games turnovers and missed opportunities can be detrimental to a teams success. After two unsuccessful fourth down conversions, two turnovers and a field goal miss it had the feel that could happen to the Sooners. However, that would not come to fruition as Oklahoma dominated the second half in a 31-16 upset victory.
Baptism by Fire
Oklahoma knew it would need to have newcomers and freshman grow up in a hurry. The loss of Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and DeDe Westbrook to the NFL last year and leading returning receiver Mark Andrews in the first half would provide a significant challenge. What Sooner fans didn’t know was how quickly they would be able to contribute. True Freshman Trey Sermon had 87 total yards including a touchdown reception. Fellow freshman receiver CeeDee Lamb hauled in five grabs for 61 yards. Sophomore Lee Morris also had one very important catch for a touchdown and graduate transfer Jeff Badet chipped in with five catches for 82 yards.
Many times the true make of a team can be determined by how they react when the momentum swings. The Buckeyes came out of halftime with their hair on fire by scoring 10 points of the first two drives. After gaining 113 yards on those two possessions, Ohio State would lead by three points and set up shop their own 40 yard line. However, Linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Defensive End DJ Ward set the tone by stuffing J.K. Dobbins on back to back plays. J.T. Barrett would be tackled after a five yard gain which would force a punt. The Sooners would just take four plays to take a lead they would never relinquish.
Mayfield Plants Memories In Second Half
The Sooners sputtered off and on in the first half. However, Baker Mayfield orchestrated an impressive second half performance. He completed 16 out of 17 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. “Baker (Mayfield) is the heart of our team,” Badet said. “That’s the guy that everybody listens to, that everybody follows, when he talks to everybody, people are quiet and they listen. Admittedly, this has been a game that Mayfield has circled on his calendar for a year as he had arguably his worst performance as a Sooner in this game a year ago. Following the game, Mayfield would create some controversy by planting the Oklahoma flag at midfield.
Passing of the Torch
This was supposed to be a mismatch on the sidelines. Ohio State has what is known as the best coach in the country not named Nick Saban. Comparatively, Lincoln Riley is the youngest head coach in College Football and is taking over for one of the most successful coaches in program history. Riley looked the part of a seasoned vet in having his team motivated and hungry going into Columbus. The Sooner offense often was one step ahead of the Buckeye defense all night which paved the way to the victory.
Bob Stoops made several appearances on the telecast before, during, and after the game. One of the more surreal moments occurred when Stoops congratulated Riley and the Sooners heading into the locker room. Now, Oklahoma is up to number two in the Associated Press poll and it’s safe to say they will continue to be a factor on the national scene.