NORMAN –In a game that was marked by West Virginia’s perpetual chippiness, the Sooners simply made sure none of it mattered, powering to eight TDs and a field goal on their first nine possessions en route to a 59-31 rout of the Mountaineers that was not nearly as close as the score indicated. Baker Mayfield’s suspension turned out to be, as we expected, for a single series, which ended up being only two plays. The chip on his shoulder was as evident in his last game on Owen Field as it was in his first, and he made sure West Virginia paid the price.
Mayfield was a staggeringly efficient 14-17 for 281 yards and three TDs, while playing only the first half (other than the first series) and the first series of the second half. On the second series of the second half, he handed off on first down, then got a curtain call as Kyler Murray came in to run the offense the rest of the game.
Rodney Anderson again led the Sooners with 118 yards on only 13 carries, including four first half TDs. Murray had three carries for 80 yards, most of which came on a 66-yard zone read on the first play of the game. Abdul Adams added 62 yards on eight carries, while Trey Sermon had 50 on six totes. CeeDee Lamb led the Sooner receivers with four catches for 92 yards and a TD. Mark Andrews also had four catches, for 61 yards and a score.
WVU won the toss and deferred. After a nice kickoff return by Marcellus Sutton to the Sooner 30, it would take only two plays to get into the end zone. Murray’s keeper jetted 66 yards to the WVU 4, then Anderson took it in from there on the next play, and it was 7-0 only 49 seconds into the game.
WVU, missing their starting QB Will Grier with a nasty broken finger from last week, started backup Chris Chugunov. They also apparently changed their entire offense in a week, as they used a steady diet of runs and wildcat plays to move the ball to the Sooner 11. Their drive stalled there, though, and they settled for a field goal that made it 7-3 with 7:08 to play in the first quarter.
The Sooners’ second drive would be barely longer than their first. Anderson carried for 58 yards to the Mountaineer 17 on the opening play of the drive, turning WVU defenders back and forth as he weaved down the field. Mayfield then hit Lamb for 11 yards to the six. Two plays later, Mayfield and Lamb hooked up again for the eight-yard TD pass to make it 14-3 with 5:21 to go in the first.
WVU again moved the ball well on their next possession. They eventually got all the way to the Sooner 12. However, a fumbled pitch was recovered by Obo Okoronkwo at the Sooner 11 to end the threat.
After Anderson ran for nine yards, Mayfield hit Marquise Brown for 56 yards to the Mountaineer 24. Anderson carried for seven, then two, then was stuffed on third and one. OU went for it, and Dmitri Flowers powered for two to keep the drive alive. On the next play, Anderson took it in from 13 yards out, and it was 21-3 Sooners with 3:08 to play in the first half.
WVU would make short work of it on the ensuing possession, moving from their 25 to the Sooner four-yard-line in two plays. OU tried to make a goal line stand, but WVU punched it in on fourth and goal, and the score was 21-10 with 10:25 to play in the half.
The Mountaineers sensed they had momentum, and Dana Holgorsen tried an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. WVU’s kicker short-squibbed it straight ahead and recovered the ball. However, on replay, he touched it half a yard before it had gone 10 yards, and the Sooners took over on the WVU 44. Also, while nothing will even make up for what happened in Eugene, Oregon, we at least finally won a review on a guy touching an onside kick before it went 10 yards.
The Sooners would take advantage of the short field. Mayfield hit Andrews for 24 yards on first down. Sermon ran for four, but a holding call wiped that out. Andrews then caught another ball for 12 yards to the Mountaineer 18. Sermon ran for seven to set up third and one at the WVU 11. Mayfield had a weird keeper that gained nothing, and OU again faced fourth and one deep in WVU territory. They would once again go for it, this time picking it up on a six-yard Anderson run. After the play, a WVU player hit Dru Samia while he was down and pinned him to the ground. Samia retaliated with a punch, which was predictably all the officials saw. Samia was hit with a 15-yard penalty and was ejected from the game. Instead of first and goal at the five, it was first and 10 at the 20. It wouldn’t matter. Anderson ran for three yards and then took it the other 17 on the next play, and OU led 28-10 with 5:56 to play in the first half.
WVU went three and out and punted the Sooners to their own 36. Mayfield then hit another bomb to Lamb for 62 yards to the WVU two, with a roughing the passer flag tacked on. Two plays later, Anderson dove over from the one, and it was 35-10 with 3:35 to play in the half.
Another three and out and a punt gave OU the ball at their own 23 with 1:53 to play. It was more than enough time. Sermon ran for four, then Mayfield connected with Flowers for 24. Jeff Baden caught one for eight yards, then Mayfield scrambled for five and a first down at the WVU 36. Andrews caught one for 11, then Sermon carried for three, and the Sooners called a time out with 24 seconds left at the WVU 22. Mayfield and Brown connected for eight yards and a first down at the 14. Mayfield then finished the drive, hitting Andrews on a slant for the TD and a 42-10 lead with 13 seconds to play in the half.
That figured to be it, but Holgorsen had different ideas. After a touchback, he dialed up a weird hook and lateral play that was horribly botched. The ball went bounding around on the ground, and the Sooners recovered at the WVU 33 with four seconds to play in the half. Lincoln Riley sent out Austin Seibert who promptly bombed through a career-long 51-yard field goal on the last play of the half to make it 45-10 going into the locker room.
It was really all over but the shouting at that point. The entire second half was garbage time, pretty much, with the Sooner reserves entering after Mayfield’s 18-yard TD pass to Grant Calcaterra on the first possession of the third quarter. Murray would add a 46-yard TD pass to Myles Tease late in the third quarter for the final Sooner points.
Next up is a rematch with TCU in Arlington Saturday morning for the Big 12 Championship. Yes, we would have preferred that last year’s rules were still in effect, and that we did not have to beat a team we already beat once to win a conference title that we have really already won, having played all the other teams and having the best record. That said, everyone is playing under the same rules, and it’s not like we haven’t done this before. TCU will give it everything they have. We are sure the Sooners will be ready to do the same, with a three-peat conference title and CFP berth on the line.
Playoff chaos was in full effect this week, with #1 Alabama and #2 Miami both going down to road defeats. It says here that the Sooners will be #2 when the rankings come out Tuesday evening, although it is not out of the realm of possibility that they will get jumped by Auburn and be #3. It really doesn’t matter. We are still in prime position. Win and in. If we’re lucky, we will be the #2 or #3 seed and get to play in the Rose Bowl. No offense to the Sugar Bowl (love NOLA), but we just did that, and there is truly nothing like the Granddaddy of them All on New Year’s Day.
But first, one more round of Frog hunting. See you in Arlington, where we will have to start using toes to count our Big 12 Championships. If you can get there, be there. Jerry World isn’t 20 miles from TCU’s campus, so we need to make sure there’s a massive red presence there to counter the purple. Have a $16 margarita and enjoy.