Baker Mayfield was the star of the evening in Waco, playing through visible pain inflicted by Baylor's aggressive and violent defense. The former Texas high school state champion completed 24-of-34 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns, adding 76 rushing yards and another score on the ground. Mayfield threw one bad interception but rallied back, earning praise from his head coach after the game.
"[We were] staying the field, making big plays. Baker Mayfield was again incredible," Bob Stoops said. "When you play Baylor, you have to stay on the field and move the ball, and we were able to do that."
Baylor will fall in the College Football Playoff Rankings with the loss and could have trouble fighting its way back into the playoff picture given the team's strength of schedule. The loss also ends a 20-game home winning streak for Art Briles in Waco.
But for Oklahoma? The win makes a playoff appearance look all the more likely. If Ohio State can battle back into the top four on the final weekend of the season in 2014, so can Oklahoma. As the Pac-12 contenders continue to beat each other, the door has opened for the Big 12 to send "one true champion" to the playoff. If that's the Sooners, I like their chances to finish in the committee's top four.
Oklahoma and Notre Dame will each play its final game of the season on Nov. 28, but the Sooners will be facing an Oklahoma State team that is still undefeated while the Irish's matchup with Stanford lacks some sizzle following a home loss to Oregon. That Texas loss is a bad one, but early-season anomalies are more easily dismissed by the selection committee than late-season losses.
A few notes about Oklahoma big win in Waco:
1. Oklahoma's defensive front adjusted early and set the tone in the trenches. After Baylor pushed down the field on the ground with ease on its opening drive, Oklahoma put the Bears' run game in check. The Sooners frequently won battles on first and second down that made it easy to succeed on third down and get off the field. The defensive front caused all kinds of problems in the backfield (8 tackles for loss) and contributed pressure that led to two interceptions from Stidham in his second career start.
2. Oklahoma has three legitimate stars to power its offense when they need a big play. Mayfield and Samaje Perine combined for 242 rushing yards to power the Sooners offense, with Sterling Shepard falling one catch short of tying the single-game school record with 14 catches (on 16 targets) for 177 and two touchdowns. Some combination of the Mayfield-Perine-Shepard trio accounted for in all six Oklahoma touchdowns and all three players contributed to the Sooners' 10-play clock-eating touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
3. Baker Mayfield wasn't the only quarterback playing hurt. Baylor freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham "is in pain right now," according to Art Briles, after taking a beating from the Sooners' front in the loss. Stidham got no favors from his offensive line in the game and it reached a point where there was only but so much to expect from a true freshman trying to play from behind in a game of this magnitude. The Bears' quarterback hung in the game though, giving everyone some joy with a touchdown pass to LaQuan McGowan.
He's in! The 410 pound LaQuan McGowan finds the endzone vs Oklahoma. https://t.co/XbDoK4Fani— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) November 15, 2015