NORMAN – In a game that started out, most disturbingly, looking like a carbon copy of last season’s affront to defensive football in Lubbock, the Sooner defense held Texas Tech to seven points over the final three quarters, and the Sooners defeated Tech, 49-27 Saturday night in Norman. Mike Stoops opened the game in a three-man front, which was shredded by Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. But a switch to four defensive linemen completely changed the game.
Baker Mayfield had a solid effort, if a little off his usual standards. He went 22 of 34 for 281 yards, four TDs, and a pick. However, he missed some wide open throws, including a wheel route that would have gone for an easy 90-yard TD. The Sooner running game pounded the Red Raiders to the tune of 336 yards, including 181 from Rodney Anderson on 24 carries and 95 from Abdul Adams on only 10 carries.
CeeDee Lamb showed he was all the way back from his injury against Iowa State, tallying 147 yards and a pair of scores on nine catches. Mark Andrews had six catches for 79 yards and a score, while Marquise Brown had four catches for 49 yards and a TD.
Tech opened the game with a 15-play, 75 yard TD drive that was mostly runs. Three passes accounted for only 18 yards of the 75, as Kingsbury took advantage of the Sooners emptying the box to defend the pass. The extra point bounced off the upright, and Tech led 6-0.
The Sooners would answer quickly. A six-play, 76-yard drive put OU ahead 7-6. The big play was a 23-yard Mayfield keeper, onto which a 15-yard personal foul was tacked. On the next play, Mayfield hit Lamb from 24 yards out for the score.
Two offensive snaps later, Tech was back ahead. A 70-yard TD pass really started bringing back bad memories. On the ensuing Sooner possession, consecutive runs of 35 and 26 yards from Adams took the Sooners from their own 38 to the Tech 1. Dmitri Flowers powered it in from there, and it was 14-13 OU with 4:31 to play in the first quarter.
A silly personal foul on Will Johnson on Tech’s next possession was immediately followed by a 42-yard TD pass on which there were two open Tech receivers within three yards of each other. It was 20-14 Tech with 2:41 to play in the first quarter, and the natives in Norman were decidedly restless and thirsting for Stoops’ blood.
However, contrary to all logic and everything that had happened up until then, the Sooners would take the lead for good on their next possession. Mayfield led a 10-play, 75-yard TD drive that made it 21-20 OU with 13:45 to play in the first half. The key play was an 18-yard connection from Mayfield to Andrews on fourth and eight from the Tech 33. Two plays later, Mayfield hit Brown from three yards out for the score.
Stoops switched to four down linemen on the ensuing Tech possession and immediately changed the game. The additional personnel up front resulted in the first sack of the night and the first punt of the night. Unfortunately, that was immediately followed by the Sooners’ first punt of the night. On Tech’s next possession, they went for it on fourth and five from the Sooner 48. Caleb Kelly made an acrobatic interception to snuff out the threat and give the Sooners good field position at their own 46.
Mayfield would take advantage to extend the lead. He hit Andrews for 16 yards and Marcelias Sutton for three more, before striking for 30 yards to Lamb to take it to the Tech five. Anderson took it in from there, and it was 28-20 with 7:04 to play in the half. The remainder of the half was the teams punting the ball back and forth to each other.
OU came out needing to score on the first possession of the second half for the second week in a row. For the second week in a row, they were up to the task. Starting from the OU 25, Anderson carried for three yards, then Mayfield hit Lamb for 28. Anderson ran for nine more, then Mayfield hit Brown for 18 yards to the Tech 17. On the next play, Anderson took it to the one, and Mayfield snuck it in from there. OU’s lead was 35-20 with 13:48 to play in the third quarter.
Tech answered with its only points of the second half. A 75-yard, six-play drive was capped with a nine-yard TD pass that made the score 35-27 with 12:10 to play in the third quarter.
The Sooners would stretch the lead back out to 15 on the next possession. The big plays were a 16-yard completion to Lamb and an 18-yard connection to Andrews. Andrews would finish the drive with a seven-yard TD catch that was reviewed and upheld. It was 42-27 with 10:24 to play in the third quarter.
After two Tech punts sandwiched around an ill-advised Mayfield pick, the Sooners closed out the scoring for the night. Beginning at the Sooner 23, Anderson carried for 18 and Brown caught a pass for 12 more. Anderson then carried for 17, six, three, and two yards, and OU had a first down at the Tech 19. Anderson carried for four more, and Adams toted it for one yard before Mayfield hit Lamb for 14 yards, the TD, and the ejection of a Tech DB for targeting. It was 49-27 with 1:4 to play in the third quarter.
Each team would have the ball only once more. Tech moved it to the Sooner six, but could not push it across in four tries from there, and the Sooners took over on downs on their own 1 with 11:16 to play - and never relinquished the ball. In what was perhaps the most impressive drive of the day, they churned out 65 yards over 18 plays and ran out the clock in the victory formation at the Tech 32. There is, perhaps, nothing so beautiful in the game of football as a game-ending grinder of a drive to run out the clock. Less so when the other team cannot win with a single score, perhaps, but beautiful nonetheless.
Results elsewhere were generally favorable for the Sooners on Saturday, particularly what happened in Columbus, Ohio. It would have been nice had TCU beaten ISU so they could still have been undefeated when they come to Norman in a couple of weeks. But, ISU’s rise improves the Sooners’ only loss.
We will not dignify the Sunday polls with a detailed discussion of their nonsense other than to say this: there is a problem with some people’s brains when both polls have the highest one-loss team ranked third, five spots in one poll and six spots in another ahead of another one-loss team (with a loss to a ranked team) that beat them decisively on their home field. We will leave it to you to figure out about whom we are talking.
That said, the only rankings that matter come out for the first time this season on Tuesday night. Here are six predictions you can check us on when the CFP rankings are released. Alabama will not be #1. Georgia will. Miami and Wisconsin, both undefeated, will be ranked behind multiple one-loss teams. Ohio State will not be ranked ahead of Oklahoma. Oklahoma will be no lower than sixth. Iowa State will be the highest-ranked two-loss team.
Next up, OSU in the Stool. ESPN Gameday will be there. The sheep jumpers will be in a frenzy, as usual. Maybe they’ll even agree to sell enough seats to people in red to sell the place out, but probably not. Forecast is for a beautiful 73-degree day, which should give us a fast track. If the Sooner defense can play as well as they did the last three quarters against Tech, we should be in decent shape. Aggy’s defense cannot stop us enough to win, as long as our defense is playing at least halfway decent. Which is never a safe assumption.
Should be a blast. See you in Payne County.