Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes are really good, but college football people have known this for a while.
Mayfield holds FBS’ season passer rating record, a mark he’d also broken the year before, and Mahomes put up massive raw totals playing in Texas Tech’s air raid.
They’re both lighting up the pros now. Mahomes could win MVP in his second year of the league, and Mayfield’s a rookie of the year candidate despite playing for the Browns.
For no other reason than it’s fun, it’s time to look back in detail on Oct. 22, 2016, when the two of them tore apart college football’s record book.
“That night, those two did it as good as you could ever do it in college,” TTU coach Kliff Kingsbury, former QB in Tech’s air raid himself and thus no stranger to massive numbers, told ESPN. “I’ve never seen two guys do it better on the same field.”
In OU’s 66-59 win over TTU, their teams set the all-time Division I single-game yardage record with 1,708.
And this game might’ve broken the all-NCAA record (1,714 by Division III Hardin-Simmons and Sul Ross State in 2012) if OU hadn’t kneeled twice to end the game.
- Mahomes set the NCAA record for individual offense in a game, with 819 combined passing and rushing yards.
- Broke the record for combined passing yardage in any NCAA game, with 1,279.
- Tied the NCAA record for combined first downs in a game, with 78.
- Mahomes tied Washington State’s Connor Halliday for the most passing yards in a Division I game, with 734 (NCAA record: 736 by Division III Eureka’s Sam Durley in 2012).
- Mayfield set a school record for passing touchdowns in a game, with seven.
- Mahomes set several other Big 12 records, including most completions in a game (52), previously held by TTU’s Kliff Kingsbury, who’s now his head coach.
- Mahomes and Mayfield set the FBS record for most combined offense by two players, with 1,383.
Mahomes’ highlight reel from the game looks more like a guy playing darts than football.
Mayfield, too, had video-game moments.
Together, Mayfield and Mahomes totaled 1,383 yards that night in Lubbock. They factored in on 81 percent of the yards in the biggest yardage game DI’s ever had.
Texas Tech would’ve had more passing yards, but the official scorer didn’t count these:
Tech students throwing full water bottles at Baker Mayfield and OU players as they leave the field.— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) October 23, 2016
The Lubbock faithful had beef with Mayfield, a former Red Raider who dramatically transferred following the 2013 season.
They reportedly chanted “Fuck you, Baker!” during the game. They had previously accused him of, among other things, killing the gorilla Harambe. A handful wore these shirts to the game:
Seen a few of these shirts in the Texas Tech student section: pic.twitter.com/K0g5eCBHsx— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 22, 2016
Mayfield got the last laugh.
The game was a points-fest first and foremost. But it was also dramatic, with Mahomes’ team making a good run at an upset of the No. 16 Sooners.
Oklahoma had a 13-0 lead four and a half minutes then. But, like you’d figure in a game with 854 yards of offense per team, Texas Tech fought gamely after that.
At different points, the score was:
- 13-10, Oklahoma
- 20-10, Oklahoma
- 20-17, Oklahoma
- 24-23, Texas Tech
- 37-24, Oklahoma
- 44-31, Oklahoma
- 44-38, Oklahoma
- 59-45, Oklahoma
- 59-52, Oklahoma
And later the final: 66-59, OU.
Defense wasn’t merely optional. The offenses basically didn’t allow it.
Here’s Oklahoma’s drive chart, which reads like offensive football fanfic:
Not a single drive longer than 4:15. Touchdowns on nine of 14 drives. Points on 10 of 14. Two punts and a turnover on downs, plus one “drive” that was only meant to kill clock.
And behold Texas Tech’s chart, which looks much the same:
Eight touchdowns on 14 series, though it’s really 13. (The last possession of the first half was a single clock-killing kneel down.) The Red Raiders coughed up two turnovers to the Sooners’ one, and that’s the simplest reason they came out on the short end.
OU was the better team, though. The Sooners ripped off a preposterous 11.2 yards per play. The Red Raiders finished at an also preposterous but less preposterous 7.8.
“The looks on the OU defensive players’ faces after the game was like they had just watched their dog get run over by a truck,” Sooners radio analyst Teddy Lehman says in Bruce Feldman’s comprehensive oral history of the game at The Athletic.
Poor Mahomes felt like he had to downplay what he’d done that night because Texas Tech’s colander defense couldn’t give him any help.
Imagine your offense ringing up eight yards per snap and still being comfortably the worst offense on the field, and you start to get a sense for what Mahomes was up against when he played an entire college career saddled to TTU’s defense.
“I did well. Definitely could have done better,” he told reporters, apparently with a straight face. “A lot of throws I underthrew, overthrew. But didn’t get the win, so it wasn’t good enough.”
A reporter asked if he knew Tech had run up 854 yards.
“I knew it was a lot. I didn’t know it was that much,” he said. “We needed to find ways to get timely stops, get timely touchdowns where we can find ways to win the game where we haven’t in the past.”
Texas Tech was 12-13 in the two seasons Mahomes started. It wasn’t on him.
Both QBs went on to great things.
Mayfield won a Heisman the next year and made the College Football Playoff again. The Browns picked him first overall, and now he’s the toast of Cleveland.
Mahomes shot up draft boards as NFL teams became more comfortable with QBs who played in college systems like Tech’s ultra-pass-happy one.
Both look like future Pro Bowlers, and their on-field meetings could be spectacular. But never again will they combine to do anything like what they did on that weird, wild night in 2016.