Big first half makes for fan­tas­tic night

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - OU POSTGAME - NOR­MAN

Baker May­field strode off Owen Field, the green acre he owns like few Soon­ers be­fore him. His arms were raised, lead­ing the cho­rus of tens of thou­sands cel­e­brat­ing the score­board’s glad tid­ings on a mag­nif­i­cent Satur­day night.

And it was only half­time.

Cap­ping a near-per­fect day for the fifth-ranked Soon­ers, May­field and his amaz­ing of­fense blis­tered the bal­ly­hooed de­fense of sixth-ranked TCU.

For the sec­ond straight Satur­day, OU posted 38 first-half points against a na­tional-ti­tle con­tender, but no sec­ond-half dra­mat­ics were needed this time as the Soon­ers rolled 38-20.

OU looked like not just a Col­lege Football Play­off con­tender, but a threat

to eat the whole en­chi­lada. And the land­scape cer­tainly be­came clearer Satur­day. Top-ranked Ge­or­gia and No. 3 Notre Dame both lost. By half­time, Sooner Na­tion was so giddy, hopes even soared that Mis­sis­sippi State might hold off Alabama. That didn’t hap­pen— what is this, sci­ence fiction?— but no mat­ter. The road is as­sured. Win out, and the Soon­ers are in the four-team play­off.

Win­ning out could mean a re­match with TCU in the Big 12 Cham­pi­onship Game. Not that the Frogs acted like they want one.

May­field and his band of ball wiz­ards had TCU coach Gary Pat­ter­son so flum­moxed, he was wav­ing a flag to match the Frogs’ all-white uni­forms be­fore half­time ar­rived. Trail­ing 31-14 late in the first half, he or­dered a punt on 4th-and-3 from the OU 39-yard line. What, were the Frogs think­ing field po­si­tion could hold down these Soon­ers?

May­field took OU 87 yards in four plays and 69 sec­onds, capped by a 33-yard touch­down pass to tail­back Rod­ney An­der­son with seven sec­onds left be­fore the half. It was An­der­son’s fourth touch­down of the half and OU’s fifth, along with a 49-yard Austin Seib­ert field goal. Yep, when Seib­ert is nail­ing 49-yard field goals, you know it’s the Soon­ers’ night.

On TCU’s open­ing drive of the sec­ond half, Pat­ter­son showed he was play­ing for psy­cho­log­i­cal face-sav­ing, or­der­ing an­other punt, on 4th-and-9 from the OU 35-yard line.

May­field was stun­ningly ef­fi­cient in that first half. Seven pos­ses­sions. One punt. One field. Five touch­down drives, span­ning 79, 80, 69, 75 and 87 yards. The Soon­ers posted 395 to­tal yards. May­field, fur­ther ce­ment­ing a huge Heis­man Tro­phy lead, com­pleted 15 of 21 for 299 yards.

An­der­son made like Joe Mixon, on-field, with four touch­downs, 151 rush­ing yards and 139 re­ceiv­ing yards. A star is born.

The Soon­ers also scored 38 first-half points a week ear­lier in Still­wa­ter, but all were nec­es­sary, since the Cow­boys did the same. This time, OU’s de­fense did its part. Mike Stoops’ fresh­man-dom­i­nated sec­ondary held up, and that’s more than May­field needs.

It all jazzed the largest crowd in OU history, 88,308, which was eerily rem­i­nis­cent of an­other Sooner blowout, the

65-21 rout of Texas Tech in 2008, after Bob Stoops had called out the crowd to make a dif­fer­ence. It did, in what be­came known as the jumparound game.

This week, May­field had chal­lenged the crowd. I don’t know if the old-timers an­swered the call, but May­field’s fel­low stu­dents did. OU stu­dents ar­rived early, packed their sec­tions — bet you never thought you’d see that again — and were loud. Even jumped around like Mike Leach was on the op­pos­ing side­line.

In the sec­ond half, the Soon­ers were con­tent to milk clock and hold down the score. Beat­ing TCU 59-21 would only draw snide re­marks about Big 12 de­fenses. Win­ning 38-20 is much more so­phis­ti­cated.

So the Soon­ers move on, need­ing only one more vic­tory to se­cure a berth in the Big 12 ti­tle game and three more wins to make the Col­lege Football Play­off. Play like this, and the Soon­ers can do dam­age once they’re there.

Berry Tramel btramel@ ok­la­homan.com

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