Mayfield leads No. 3 Oklahoma past West Virginia, 59-31
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Baker Mayfield began the week with tears and an apology.
He ended it as he so often has — by celebrating a victory.
The Oklahoma quarterback passed for 281 yards and three touchdowns after being punished for directing a lewd gesture toward the Kansas bench last week, and the third-ranked Sooners routed West Virginia 59-31 on Saturday to maintain their momentum heading into the Big 12 Championship game.
Mayfield was stripped of his captaincy and starting job for Saturday’s contest, his final home game as a Sooner. He received the loudest cheers when the seniors were announced, then more loud cheers when he entered the game to start Oklahoma’s second drive.
“The first steps on the field made that all go away,” Mayfield said. “They (the fans) are always going to have my back. It’s OK for me to grow and learn and move on. If I’m progressing and becoming a better man in their eyes that’s something I’m proud of. I’m going to learn from my mistakes and move forward.”
The Sooners scored touchdowns on all five possessions Mayfield played in before halftime, and on all six drives he completed in the game. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley was pleased with the way Mayfield handled the week’s events.
“His last game here, no matter how you draw it up, was going to be emotional,” Riley said. “I was proud of him. I thought he held it in check. He was definitely emotional before — I know a lot of thoughts were running through his head. So for him to play the way he did considering all the circumstances was again why the guy is the best.”
Mayfield completed 14 of 17 passes in a nearly flawless performance likely kept him at the front of the Heisman Trophy race.
″(No.) 6 is the best player in college football,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He has a lot of really good people around him.”
Rodney Anderson ran for 118 yards and four touchdowns for the Sooners (11-1, 8-1 Big 12, No. 4 CFP). They will play TCU for the Big 12 title next Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
Oklahoma gained 646 yards in its straight win. It was the most points the Sooners have scored against the Mountaineers.
“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.”
West Virginia’s Chris Chugunov passed for 137 yards in his first start. He stepped in for Will Grier, who injured a finger the previous week against Texas. Kennedy McKoy ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns for the Mountaineers (7-5, 5-4).
It was a chippy contest in the first half, and it reached its peak when Oklahoma right guard Dru Samia was ejected after an altercation in the second quarter. It didn’t stop the Sooners — just two plays later, Anderson scored his third touchdown of the game from 17 yards out to give the Sooners a 28-10 lead. Mayfield ran over to the sideline, jumping up and down, waving his arms up and exhorting the crowd.
Kyler Murray, a transfer from Texas A&M, started in Mayfield’s place and took off for a 66-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Anderson scored on the next play to put the Sooners up 7-0.
Mayfield took over and completed 11 of 12 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He sat for good with about three minutes left in the third quarter and the Sooners up 52-24.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers tried getting inside the Sooners’ heads with the extra pushing and shoving and it backfired. The Sooners scored on every first-half possession and led 45-10 at the break.
Oklahoma: The Sooners rallied behind Mayfield and played one of its most complete games of the season. Oklahoma’s defense had a third consecutive solid effort, controlling the first half and holding the Mountaineers to 387 total yards.
With No. 2 Miami losing to Pitt on Friday and No. 1 Alabama losing to Auburn on Saturday, Oklahoma is positioned to move up to No. 1.
Murray, a transfer from Texas A&M, completed both of his passes for 52 yards and a touchdown and ran three times for 80 yards. For the season, he has completed 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 13 times for 142 yards and another score.
Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews broke the school record for career yards receiving by an Oklahoma tight end. He ended the game with 1,655 yards, surpassing Jermaine Gresham’s mark of 1,629 yards.
Oklahoma’s D.J. Ward proposed to his girlfriend during Senior Day introductions. She said yes.
Ward also won the Don Key Award, which is given to Oklahoma players who exemplify the best qualities on and off the field. Dimitri Flowers and Jordan Smallwood were the other winners.
Holgorsen on the positives in the game: “Well, we won time of possession.”
West Virginia: Will head to a bowl game.
Oklahoma: Will play TCU in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP