Baker Mayfield took on one of the country’s best defenses and lit it on fire.
In No. 5 Oklahoma’s 38-20 destruction of No. 6 TCU on Saturday in Norman, Mayfield was dominant from the jump. The senior quarterback had 299 yards and three touchdown passes by halftime, when OU had 38 points against a team that gave up 14 per game.
That was plenty for the Sooners to put on cruise control in the second half. Mayfield finished with 333 and those three scores on 18-of-27 passing. His rating was 206.9. Mayfield and the Sooners’ first-half dominance were all that prevented him from running up some unholy passing totals in the second half, too.
Mayfield set FBS’ all-time single-season passing efficiency record last year, at 196.4, and he’s tracking to break his own record this year. Mayfield puts up video-game numbers every week, and this time, he did it against a Gary Patterson defense. In doing that, he solidified Oklahoma as the Big 12 front-runner and a playoff contender.
It’s not an exaggeration to call Mayfield one of the best college QBs of all time. And it’s not an exaggeration to say the Heisman Trophy should be his going away.
Just by process of elimination, Mayfield’s the clear front-runner.
Heisman voting tilts toward quarterbacks on winning teams. Mayfield’s the star of a one-loss team that’s in strong position to make the playoff.
- Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who’s had a lot of underwhelming games and doesn’t have amazing numbers on a two-loss team that won’t even win its division.
- Stanford running back Bryce Love, who’s great but plays for a West Coast (read: late TV appearances) team that has three losses already.
- Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, who’s been really bad in both of his team’s losses and recently handed out four picks in one of them, at Iowa.
- Notre Dame running back Josh Adams, whose team just got destroyed by Miami in a nationally televised blockbuster where Adams had bad numbers.
That’s just popularity contest stuff, obviously. But the Heisman itself is something of a popularity contest, unless you think quarterbacks happen to be the most outstanding players in college football the vast majority of the time. (Sorry, 20-some other positions!) Lamar Jackson won last year despite not playing for that good a team, and Jackson did it because his numbers were outrageous. So are Mayfield’s this year.
Mayfield’s pretty clearly the most deserving candidate, too.
He’s the most efficient passer in the country by a healthy margin, having entered the weekend more than 10 ratings points up on the next-best qualifier. His rating against TCU will bump that season number up a little bit higher.
The 11.9 yards per attempt he was averaging were almost a whole yard better than the No. 2, UCF’s McKenzie Milton. His 71.7 percent completion rate was No. 1 over Milton, too. His 28 TDs were just three off the leader, and his five picks were (and are) a really low total for someone who’s thrown 300 passes.
This sport has a lot of greatness at the QB position. Jackson remains the most dangerous player in the country when he’s really on. Barkley is a highlight machine. Adams is the focal point of what’s (usually) been an unstoppable ground force. Love is incredible, though helped a lot by Stanford’s schematics.
None of those players except Love has numbers that pop the eyes like Mayfield’s, and Mayfield’s won more at a position that has more to do with winning than any other.
What he did to the Horned Frogs is just the latest, strongest data point to back Mayfield’s case as the best player in the country this year. He’s going to win the Heisman in a couple of weeks, and I don’t think anyone else is going to have much of a case.