Then there was one.
West Virginia traveled to Stillwater and fell flat against the Oklahoma State Cowboys’ stout defense, losing its first game of the year. Then Baylor followed suit with a one-point loss in Austin, its first loss of the season.
By the time the clock struck 7 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, all Oklahoma had to do was chalk up a ‘W’ against Kansas to lay claim to the sole lead of the Big 12. With it being the Sooners’ homecoming, they did more than just walk away with a win. They took Kansas to town 56-3, by far the most dominant performance by a Big 12 program all season. This was the perfect time to show off OU’s dangerous starters, but also the quality that lies beneath Baker Mayfield and company on the depth chart.
Since this game was against Kansas, it is hard to make a case that Oklahoma is truly back after pummeling the Jayhawks. However, compared to the rest of the upper echelon teams such as Baylor and Oklahoma State — and how they played against the Jayhawks — there’s good reason to assume OU’s first two losses in non-conference play were either flukes or that the team has really learned from those errors.
For starters, this was an absolute clinic for Mayfield, who operating with rarefied precision. He was 16-of-24 for 236 yards and four touchdowns. While helped Dede Westbrook bolster his résumé again with a 105-yard performance with a touchdown, he really spread the ball around, making Kansas defense thinner than it already is.
Mayfield found four different receivers in the end zone or at least targeted those in position to score. Mark Andrews had to run through a defender to get his touchdown in. It was Andrews’ first touchdown since Week 3 against Ohio State. Greg Lewis also found paydirt for the first time this season, as did fullback Dimitri Flowers.
While Flowers didn’t add anything else to the fold — he mostly functions as a receiving back — the Sooners did make plenty of noise on the ground. It was a nearly symmetrical performance to the passing game, rushing 38 times for 267 yards compared to 33 passes for 271 yards. It’s that type of balance that can tip the scales when most other teams are either run or pass dominant.
Even more impressive is that this continues to be accomplished without Samaje Perine in the backfield. Most duties are given to Joe Mixon now. He put together another 100-yard game from scrimmage but backup running back Abdul Adams also got his firs real crack at playing since facing Louisiana Monroe, rushing for 91 yards on 13 carries. Going up against Kansas this sure to be glazed over, but Baylor’s conference-leading rushing attack didn’t even function this well against Kansas during its homecoming. That has to count for something.
The past four weeks has been the “Dede Westbrook Show” with Mixon occasionally being the guest star after having a slow start to the season. So it was refreshing to see him highlighted in a multitude of ways with 230 total yards including a 71-yard kickoff return to start the game but have OU become more inclusive.
If that keeps up down the home stretch, the Big 12 isn’t likely to change hands in December.