COLUMBUS, Ohio — Baker Mayfield claimed Ohio Stadium as his own Saturday by planting an Oklahoma flag at midfield following the Sooners’ 31-16 road win over the No. 2 Buckeyes.
The redshirt senior quarterback’s reasons for doing so — it was unplanned, Mayfield said — were mostly rooted in feelings of embarrassment from last season’s 45-24 loss to Ohio State in Norman.
But other things were on his mind, too.
“Nobody picked us on [ESPN’s College] GameDay,” Mayfield said. “You see it on social media throughout the week, that there were about 80 percent of the country [who] voted for Ohio State to win.”
Mayfield, who threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns, harnessed his me-against-the-world attitude even more than usual. That attitude dispersed on the sideline and helped fuel OU’s victory.
It was visible afterward, too.
“I don’t want to dwell on what the media was saying but we heard a lot of things throughout the week. We took it personal,” linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo said. “We definitely tried to shut some people up.
Okoronkwo said even “my family was calling us the underdogs.”
ESPN analyst Lee Corso called the Sooners “pretenders” during College GameDay’s coverage leading up to the game. Even OU’s Lincoln Riley — who’s been quite measured in his statements since taking over as head coach — couldn’t help but fire back.
“We’re just a bunch of pretenders that are trying to win some games,” Riley told ESPN’s Maria Taylor in a live postgame interview on the field.
Riley expressed some regret about that comment after a cool-off period.
“Probably something I wish I hadn’t said to be honest with you,” Riley said. “But our guys have a chip on their shoulder. They’ve got an edge about them. They’re not going to apologize for that.”
Mayfield didn’t hold anything back in Columbus.
Asked how dominant OU was, he said: “We should have won by a lot more,” and later added the Sooner defense forced the Buckeyes to turn one-dimensional.
• No acting: Mayfield went to the sideline with apparent cramps in the first half and twice was replaced briefly by backup Kyler Murray.
During one instance in the second quarter, Murray ran a trick play — a handoff, then a pitch back to Murray for a 9-yard gain — on his first play in the game. It drove theories that maybe Mayfield’s cramps weren’t real.
Mayfield says otherwise.
“Those were cramps,” he said. “I mean I can do a lot of stuff, but I can’t act.”
• Freshmen fun: OU’s freshmen handled the big stage.
Running back Trey Sermon inched closer to seizing a starting role after carrying 17 times for 64 yards. It was the most carries OU afforded one back through two games this season.
Receiver CeeDee Lamb caught five passes for 61 yards.
Grant Calcaterra snared a 21-yard catch while filling in for Andrews at tight end, bouncing back from an earlier drop that would’ve likely been a touchdown otherwise.
“I was really proud of [Calcaterra],” Riley said. “He dropped that first one. Most true freshmen, especially in an environment like this, would go into the tank. He jumped right in there.”
On defense, middle linebacker Kenneth Murray had four tackles and safety Robert Barnes had one stop.
• Trench war: Much was made of OU’s offensive line facing Ohio State’s defensive line, with both units being nationally heralded in the preseason.
The Sooners ran for just 104 yards and surrendered two sacks, but their scheme against the Buckeyes’ rabid front worked. Mayfield made big plays while evading pressure, and Riley called a number of quick passes to negate the Buckeye pass rush.
“You’re going to be under duress some against them,” Riley said. “The line of scrimmage to me looked like the heavyweight battle we thought it would be and it was. It was a slugfest. … That’s an elite defensive line and we think our o-line is pretty decent.”
• Health scares: Maybe the only thing concerning OU now is returning to Norman with a banged-up roster.
Tight end Mark Andrews missed much of the game after sustaining an apparent knee injury. Senior safety Will Johnson left after being shaken up during a collision. Both positions are backed on the depth chart by freshmen.
Riley also said Cody Ford, who started at left guard, “got a little dinged up.”
There was no official word on any of the injuries Saturday.