You might hear or read pundits reference “Heisman Moments” when assessing a player’s worthiness for the top individual honor in college football. Baker Mayfield joined the illustrious club in 2017 with a smattering of Heisman Moments.
From the start of the regular season, going 19-for-20 with three touchdowns against UTEP; to closing the regular season at 14-of-17 with three touchdowns vs. West Virginia, Baker Mayfield was excellent from wire to wire.
But in 2017, Lamar Jackson was also excellent. So was Bryce Love. Baker Mayfield separated himself from his fellow Heisman finalists in these six moments.
Third Quarter Scoring Drive at Ohio State
Ohio State went into Norman a season ago and absolutely decimated Oklahoma. What chance could the Sooners, under a first-year head coach in Lincoln Riley working just his second game, have going to Columbus?
As it turns out, having Baker Mayfield at quarterback gave Oklahoma a pretty damn good chance.
Ohio State led a defensive struggle 13-10 in the late third quarter, until Mayfield led a four-play, 92-yard drive that culminated in an 18-yard touchdown pass to Lee Morris. The Sooners took their first lead and the flood gates opened in the fourth quarter.
The win over Ohio State also produced one of the enduring images of the 2017 season.
Touchdown Pass to Jeff Badet vs. Baylor
A porous effort from the Oklahoma defense and a costly fumble resulted in the Sooners trailing struggling Baylor late into the third quarter of their Sept. 23 matchup.
Baker Mayfield made sure the deficit didn’t last long.
He ran play-action at midfield then found wide receiver Jeff Badet streaking down the left sideline for a 48-yard touchdown. The score at the end of the third quarter gave Oklahoma the lead for the remainder of the way in a close win.
The Kansas State Touchdown Runs
The defensive issues that surfaced at Baylor became a recurring theme in the first half of Oklahoma’s season. In Manhattan — a place where championship dreams go to die amid the corn fields — the Sooners dug a 21-10 hole. Now, such a scenario seemed tailor-made for Baker Mayfield to don his Superman cape, but he led the comeback instead emulating Flash.
Two touchdown runs in the second half powered Oklahoma, including a 14-yard scramble after misdirecting the K-State defense with a nice option keep.
A Third Quarter Deluge vs. Texas Tech
It’s hard to believe there was a time when Baker Mayfield was a back-up quarterback thrust into the Texas Tech lineup out of necessity. How might college football history be different had Mayfield remained in Lubbock?
Four years have elapsed since Mayfield was a Red Raider, but those old wounds didn’t heal.
Baker threw salt in the wounds on Oct. 28. Texas Tech came to Norman and hung tough with the Sooners for a half, but Mayfield deluged the Red Raiders with a touchdown run and two scoring passes over the course of a decisive third quarter.
OK, so using an entire game might be cheating in a spotlight of moments, but I’d be remiss to not include a performance that will go down as one of the best individual efforts in college football history. Yes, history.
Add the stakes — a rivalry game for first place in the conference — and Baker Mayfield’s 598 yards passing and five touchdowns against Oklahoma State positioned him as the clear frontrunner for the Heisman over the season’s final month.
Second Quarter vs. TCU
One of the best defenses in the nation was absolutely dissected in a 15-minute period on Nov. 11.
TCU came to Norman tied atop the Big 12 with Mayfield and the Sooners, flourishing through stingy defense and opportunistic offense. Oklahoma set the tone in the first quarter with 17 points, including a Mayfield touchdown pass, but the second quarter slammed the door on the Horned Frogs.
Mayfield struck for touchdown passes of 14 and 33 yards in under six minutes to extend a 10-point lead to an insurmountable 24-point advantage by halftime.