By Michael Kinney
Through out the season, Baker Mayfield’s post-game celebrations have taken on must-see status. From planting the flag at Ohio State to wearing the gold hat in Dallas, they’ve become a part of the Mayfield legend.
But Saturday night, Oklahoma fans saw a different Mayfield post game. After rolling over West Virginia 59-24 in his final home game of his career, he took a slow lap inside Memorial Stadium, giving high fives to the fans who stood behind him throughout his career.
“I try to give back,” Mayfield said. “It doesn’t justify, it’s not equal, but I try to do as much as I can after all they’ve supported me through.”
The odds were stacked against West Virginia. Going on the road without their starting quarterback and facing a high powered team like Oklahoma was not the easiest game they could have picked to end the regular season. But then throw in a highly charged and focused Mayfield and, the mountain was just too steep to climb.
.“I knew they were good offensively going into this thing,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I don’t want to beat up our defense. We’ve played real good defense around here the last three or four years. I like what we’re doing. They obliviously had their way with us tonight.”
After being held out of the starting lineup due to his actions at Kansas, Mayfield didn’t enter the game until the Sooners (11-1) second possession. Already trailing 7-3, WVU (7-5) found itself in a deeper hole when Mayfield connected with CeeDee Lamb for a short touchdown pass.
“I just decided I was going to do it one series, regardless of whether it was a 10-play drive – I didn’t want to have to make the decision in game,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “So I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to make a decision and I’m going to stick with it no matter what happens.’ And so, the first series went a little bit quicker than I thought, but it worked out fine.”
The Mountaineers had no problems moving the ball early on. The offensive line blew open holes in the Sooners defense and the WVU backs found wide running lanes into the secondary.
But when they got into the red zone, they fell apart. After settling for a field goal on the first possession, tailback Justin Crawford fumbled on OU’s 11-yard line the next time WVU had the ball.
With quarterback Will Greer suffering a broken middle finger last week, Chris Chugunov got the start. But as effective as the running game was in the first half, he wasn’t asked to do too much early.
WVU put the game on the backs of Kennedy McKoy, Justin Crawford and the offensive line as they manhandled the Oklahoma front seven,
On the third straight possession, the Mountaineers found themselves deep in Oklahoma territory. This time they put the six points on the board when McKoy plowed into the endzone on a fourth and one call. The deficit was closed to 21-10.
WVU attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kick-off. It almost worked to perfection, but a Mountaineer touched the ball before it went 10 yards.
OU took over on the 45-yard line and drove into the WVU red zone. The Mou8ntaineirs forced the Sooners into a 4th and one. But after several near fights and brawls, Rodney Anderson scored his third touchdown of the half to put OU up 28-10.
The Mountaineers kept shooting themselves in the foot offensively. Without Greer under center, they couldn’t produce a consistent passing game. This allowed Oklahoma to concentrate on the West Virginia running attack, which they shut down in the second quarter.
Oklahoma scored 17 more points to close out the first half and take a 45-10 halftime advantage. The was essentially over.
“This is going to be short and sweet,” West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. “Defensively we sucked up front, we sucked at linebacker, we sucked at DB. Dana should probably fire me after that.”
Mayfield played only two quarters, but still managed 281 yards and three touchdown passes. Rodney Anderson had his second four-touchdown game of the season for the Sooners.
“Honestly, it is one of the better wins that we have had,” Anderson said. “It was a full complete game with both sides playing complimentary ball. It was awesome to see, especially this time of the year. It was good to see.”
In his first start, Chugunov finished 8-of-13 for 107 yards passing. McKoy rushed for 140 yards on 21 carries. That included lining up as the quarterback in the wildcat set.
David Sill led the WVU receivers with 55 yards on two catches.
The win sends Oklahoma into next week’s Big 12 Championship game riding a seven-game win streak and looking for a spot in the College Football playoffs.
“How loud they got when I first went in was something I’ll never forget,” Mayfield said. “It means the world to me, I’ve said I’ve always dreamed of playing here so the moment it settled in for me was when Coach (Lincoln) Riley told me, ‘You’re going to take the first play right here, then be ready to come out.’ It kind of settled in there and made it tough, but the good thing is we have three more games.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com