Oklahoma Sooners’ quarterback Baker Mayfield took the home loss to Ohio State in 2016 personally. He experienced a 45-24 loss to the Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes on his home turf. Mayfield felt embarrassed by the loss and the fact that the Buckeyes sang their fight song on the field after the game. In fact, he felt so embarrassed to the point that Mayfield vowed to avenge that embarrassment when he brought the fight to Ohio Stadium in 2017. Boy, did Mayfield ever bring that fight.
A scoreless game at the end of the first quarter, both teams entered into halftime tied at three apiece. Both offenses looked as if they were struggling early. Neither quarterback was able to light up the field with anything spectacular. The tie game at the half led many fans to believe the game was going to come down to the wire.
Enter Baker Mayfield.
The Sooners’ quarterback looked off in the first half, at times coming off of the field limping after a play. Many fans thought this meant that Mayfield’s hype and all the talking he did coming into the game was just that. Only talk. Mayfield showed them he could back up his words, and he did. Baker Mayfield came out in the second half on a mission to make sure he was not losing to Ohio State for the second season in a row. The Sooners’ last loss was to the Buckeyes a year ago, and Mayfield would be damned if he allowed his last two losses to be to Ohio State.
Mayfield came out on fire in the second half, ending the game completing 27 of his 35 pass attempts, good for 386 yards and three touchdowns. If that isn’t impressive enough, Mayfield gained most of those stats in the second half. The second half alone saw Mayfield go 16 for 17 on pass attempts for 228 yards and all three touchdowns.
In other words, Baker Mayfield came out of halftime on a mission for the second half and that mission was to pick apart the Ohio State defense. Mayfield led his team to a 31-16 victory over the Buckeyes, embarrassing them on their home turf, just as was embarrassed a season ago. Certainly, Mayfield and his teammates earned the right to sing their fight song on Ohio State’s field. However, Mayfield went a step further and decided to make sure that the Buckeyes felt the same embarrassment he felt. After the handshakes, Mayfield celebrated with his teammates and the Oklahoma fans in attendance by grabbing the oversized Oklahoma flag and running around Ohio Stadium before firmly planting that flag at the 50-yard line.
Baker Mayfield just did that. pic.twitter.com/Qo2Aw1pPE8
— ESPN (@espn) September 10, 2017
Obviously, that action has upset many Buckeye fans. But planting the flag at midfield was only salt in the wound. Ohio State fans have been extremely vocal in their complaints of Ohio State’s head coach Urban Meyer, his coordinators and assistant coaches, and the play of starting quarterback J.T. Barrett. In an offense that has been highly touted all throughout the offseason, fans have experienced disappointment so far in the 2017 season. Many fans came into the new season expecting an offense resembling that of the 2014 season, Barrett’s first year as starting quarterback and the year the Buckeyes won the National Championship in the first ever College Football Playoff.
While Barrett does not possess the speed or elusiveness of former Ohio State quarterbacks Braxton Miller or Terrelle Pryor, Barrett is still an effective option for the quarterback running game that Urban Meyer likes to use. However, the flaws on offense do not solely lie with Barrett or Meyer. Meyer hired Kevin Wilson to be the new offensive coordinator for 2017 hoping to replicate some parts of the offensive production from the 2014 season. But the fact remains that Ohio State’s offense does not contain the arsenal of weapons they had two and three seasons ago. In the 2014 season, Meyer and Barrett had a number of effective weapons on the offensive side of the ball at their disposal. That season contained running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel, tight ends Jeff Heurerman and Nick Vannett and a receiving corps containing Evan Spencer, Corey Smith, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson, Devin Smith and Michael Thomas. Follow that up with the performance of backup quarterback Cardale “12-Gauge” Jones in the post season, the Buckeyes’ 2014 roster was nearly unstoppable. The difference between the 2014 and 2017 rosters is the vast number of names on the offense that were producing the offensive production in 2014.
So far this year, Barrett does not seem to have a reliable receiving target to dish the ball to in the passing game. Barrett completed only 19 of 35 pass attempts for 183 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in the loss to Oklahoma on Saturday night. The top receiver for the Buckeyes was K.J. Hill with five receptions for 44 yards. Needless to say, Barrett has not found his top receiving target yet on this team. While being the only three-time captain in Ohio State football history, Barrett has shown that he possesses the leadership capabilities to lead this Buckeye team to another College Football Playoff, he looks uncomfortable in this offense so far during the two games already played this season. The offensive line is not giving him the protection he needs to make effective passing decisions.
The surprise factor on the offense this year for Ohio State is freshmen running back J.K. Dobbins who had 13 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown against Oklahoma. Dobbins got the start in week one against Indiana and again in week two against Oklahoma. Mike Weber has been dealing with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the Indiana game but was ruled available to play for the week two matchup with the Sooners. While Dobbins and Weber both received carries in against Oklahoma, the play calling did not appear to feature the duo too much. Rather, the game seemed to rest solely on the performance of Barrett.
Towards the end of the game, and in the hours since the game’s end, fans have been calling for a change at the quarterback position for Ohio State. Urban Meyer has stated that no change will occur for who will be starting at quarterback for the Buckeyes in week three against Army. While Barrett may not be the best quarterback to ever play the game of football, the issue with the offense does not solely rest on his shoulders. Meyer and Wilson will need to get together and put together an effective game plan for the offense for week three. Maybe they should rely more on their running backs rather than the quarterback for offensive production.
We will all be sure to see what, if any, adjustments are made for week three. Ohio State will take on Army at 4:30 p.m. on September 16 in Ohio Stadium. Will Ohio State come out with intentions of making Army pay for the embarrassment suffered at the hands of Oklahoma? Will the Buckeyes use the loss to dominate the rest of the season? One thing is for sure, the last time Urban Meyer and Ohio State suffered a loss in their home opener was to Virginia Tech in 2014. We all know how that season ended for the Buckeyes. They won a National Championship.
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