TCU vs. Oklahoma score: Mayfield wraps up Heisman race, Sooners secure CFP berth
Oklahoma did not fall victim to the Big 12 Championship Game curse in its rematch vs. TCU
Unless the College Football Playoff Selection Committee pulls a fast one, Oklahoma is the first team to make the final four in the 2017 season.
The Sooners clinched the Big 12 crown with their second win over TCU this season, 41-17. Now all that's left is the formality of announcing them as a playoff team. The real drama is where Oklahoma will be ranked. It was No. 3 heading into the weekend, but a loss by either No. 1 Clemson or No. 2 Auburn could change that. You could also argue Oklahoma should be in the conversation for the top spot based on its resume, which includes two wins over the Horned Frogs, a win at No. 19 Oklahoma State and a victory at No. 8 Ohio State -- all of which were by double digits. Its lone loss was to Iowa State, which turned out to be not as damaging as expected.
With that storyline out of the way, here's what we learned from the Big 12 championship ...
1. Baker Mayfield locked up the Heisman Trophy: This was the other storyline besides Oklahoma's playoff run. The only way Mayfield was losing his grip on the Heisman race was with a bad game in a losing effort, and neither happened. Mayfield went 15-of-23 for 243 yards and four touchdowns with 65 rushing yards to boot and was every bit as efficient as he's been for the entire year. That's 10.6 yards per play, nearly .4 yards per play above his season average. In fact, Mayfield has 691 yards and seven touchdowns vs. the Horned Frogs this year, who have the Big 12's best defense. Here's how his numbers look for the year. Be warned: they're so hot they may burn your eyes.
What's more amazing is he's outdoing himself after posting huge numbers in 2015 and 2016. Per Oklahoma, he also broke Sam Bradford's career passer efficiency rating. Is Mayfield the best player in college football? Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley and a couple of others might have something to say about that, stats be damned, but Mayfield is having that special type of season.
2. The Sooners are going to be a dangerous playoff team: Critics will says Oklahoma doesn't play any defense. Technically, those critics aren't all that wrong. The Sooners' defense ranked 100th according to S&P+ coming into Saturday, though stats can be skewed because of high-powered Big 12 offenses. But what Oklahoma lacks in defense -- namely tackling -- it more than makes up for in offense. By the same S&P+ rankings, Oklahoma has the No. 1 offense in the country across the board. Its efficiency is through the roof. Mayfield is actually posting better numbers a year after losing Dede Westbrook, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon to the NFL. But insert running backs Trey Sermon and Rodney Anderson, fullback Dimitri Flowers, tight end Mark Andrews, and receivers Marquise Brown, Mykel Jones and CeeDee Lamb, and there are too many options to shut this group down.
Keep in mind, too, that Oklahoma had no problem putting up 31 points and nearly 500 yards of offense against Ohio State's defense earlier this year. Oklahoma's Mayfield-led offense also did a number on Auburn's defense in last year's Sugar Bowl, too. This team can score on anyone.
3. The zombie Big 12 Championship Game still may have done damage: The quirky note about the rebirth of the Big 12 championship is that historically it hasn't favored the higher-ranked team. This is true. Higher-ranked teams were 4-4 in the first eight years of the Big 12 title ... but they were also 6-1 in the final seven years before it went away following the 2010 season. Forcing Oklahoma to play TCU again didn't end up hurting the Sooners, but it might have hurt the Horned Frogs in their pursuit of a New Year's Six bowl spot. The loss means the Cotton Bowl could take Washington or even Notre Dame instead. If this game had gone down to the final minutes with TCU coming up short, it would have had an argument. Now? Maybe not so much.
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