Before Baker Mayfield became the Browns’ quarterback, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft was Oklahoma’s quarterback. But before that, he was Texas Tech’s quarterback. In 2013 Mayfield, then a true freshman walk-on, started eight games for the Red Raiders before an acrimonious split at the end of that season led him to walk on in Norman.
After sitting out a season due to NCAA transfer rules, Mayfield won Oklahoma’s starting job in 2015. But the Sooners played Texas Tech in Norman that year. On October 22, 2016, Mayfield finally got his chance to play in Lubbock again. By then, Patrick Mahomes had established himself as the Red Radiers’ starter. Mahomes, who arrived on campus a few months after Mayfield’s departure, had wowed Texas Tech coaches with his blend of athleticism and freakish arm talent.
On a 77-degree night in west Texas, these future NFL first-rounders clashed. The offensive players on each team will always remember it. The defenders from each team pray they’ll someday forget it.
Each team gained 854 yards, and the 1,708-yard total set a new Division I record. Mahomes set the single-game FBS record for total yards in a game with 819 and shared the record for passing yards in a game with 734. The Sooners became the first team in college football history to have a 500-yard passer (Mayfield), a 200-yard rusher (Joe Mixon), and a 200-yard receiver (Dede Westbrook) in the same game. Other records that fell included most yards by a losing team, most first downs and most combined yards passing. The game accounted for seven national records, all of which still stand two years later.
On Saturday, Oklahoma returns to Lubbock for the first time since that historic game. The following day the Chiefs and their record-breaking second-year quarterback sensation, Patrick Mahomes, will head to Cleveland to play the Browns and their rookie-of-the-year contender, Baker Mayfield.
In preparation for the weekend matchups, The MMQB revisited the record-breaking game from 2016, told in the words of those who lived it.
Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech quarterback: It was a crazy game.
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma quarterback: It was a basketball score.
Geno Lewis, Oklahoma wide receiver: The first thing I think about that game is the excitement.
Cameron Batson, Texas Tech wide receiver: The exciting atmosphere. West Texas at night.
Mark Andrews, Oklahoma tight end: The most unique game I have ever been a part of.
Keke Coutee, Texas Tech wide receiver: That was the craziest game I ever played in.
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma offensive coordinator (now head coach): The game was one of the wildest ones ever.
Heading into the game, the predominant storyline was the return of Mayfield to Lubbock. The always-rowdy Red Raider crowd was especially prepared for the moment.
Lewis: That was the first time Baker was going back since leaving there, his first time playing there.
Chris Level, sideline reporter for the Texas Tech radio network: All the focus was on Mayfield coming back. That’s what that game was all about before it even started.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech coach: It was intense with Baker coming back and the history there. So it was a charged atmosphere in that stadium. Pat didn’t want to lose at home, and Baker wanted to come back and shove it up everybody’s rear.
Andrews: There was no doubt it was a big moment for him. Going back to a school he transferred from, just having his back and supporting him fully, being able to play for him. We were going out for him to play our game and do everything we can for him. There was so much hype around it.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma linebacker: 100% we wanted to win for Baker. He took it super personal. His whole demeanor was different before that game.
Lewis: As much of a leader as he is, we wanted to go out there for him and have his back for the whole game, get that win for him.
Batson: The coaches all week were saying, he’s a guy who plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s good, he talks crap, but he backs it up. We knew on the field, he’s an animal. He gets fired up, and he makes his presence known. It was definitely a big emphasis on controlling him all week.
Lewis: He had a chip on his shoulder. He is so dedicated. He plays with so much emotion. For him, going back, the crowd booing him. Games like that you want to go out there for him and give it everything you got for him. It’s a personal thing and it’s a pride thing too.
Steven Parker, Oklahoma defensive back: You know you’re going to hear a lot of chants, lot of fans saying some things that of course you wouldn’t approve of and wouldn’t like.
Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma linebacker: Always hostility in the Texas Tech stadium. It’s always hostile.
Andrews: I remember being in the warmups, their whole stadium was already filled, and chanting different things at Baker, throwing stuff, they were riled up to see him.
Lewis: Through the week before the game, [Baker] was telling us it was a crazy environment, that they throw tortillas and batteries and all that stuff.
Mayfield: Weird things happen in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday nights.
Andrews: You don’t get batteries thrown at you all that often. We fed off opposing crowds cheering against us. Especially having a guy like Bak, he loves that.
Level: He’s embracing the heel role. They’re chanting ‘F-U Baker.’ Mayfield is clearly playing up to that, and probably played better because of it.
Mayfield: That was my welcome-back-to-Lubbock moment.
Parker: There was an energy about Baker as soon as he walked in. That guy right there, he’s a difference-maker. He embraced the whole moment. Of course it was vengeful for him.
Lewis: Before the game you try to imagine what it’d be like. But when we get there, they are throwing tortillas and all the stuff he said.
Thomas: Every time I think of Texas Tech, I think of tortillas
Okoronkwo: I caught one and took a bite of it. Waved to the fans a little bit. It was a little bland. But it was some good carbs during the game.
Coutee: It shows we have diehard fans.
While Mahomes was already a well-known phenomenon in Big 12 country, the game served as his dramatic arrival to a national TV audience. His 50 completions set a Big 12 record (previously held by none other than his coach, Kingsbury). The quarterback was responsible for 100 total plays on his own—88 passes, 12 runs—and dazzled with the same type of scrambling, freewheeling, breathtaking plays that NFL fans have become familiar with this year.
Lewis: We knew Pat Mahomes was a good player before the game. Everyone knew he had a cannon. That guy will throw that thing 80 yards, 90 yards down the field and make it look easy.
Batson: He’s very talented. Everybody has known that since he got to Texas Tech. I hosted Pat when he was on his official visit. We knew what type of athlete he was.
Andrews: We knew Patrick could really sling it. I remember having a conversation with Orlando Brown. Mahomes was rolling out to his other side, he threw the ball across the field 50 yards. Orlando just looked at me; there are not many other people that could do that. That was the first time I was like, he is special.
Batson: He was rolling to his left, flicked it, and it went about 65 in the air for a touchdown. He does stuff that you can’t even think of it being possible.
Batson: Me and Pat were recruited the same day. Coach Kingsbury was telling me this guy is a baller, this guy is a baller. First couple weeks of practice, he was making crazy throw with just his arm strength. It was the first couple of times I saw him on the field that I knew this guy could play.
Coutee: We played high school football in same area. I always knew he could play that way from the time I first saw him.
Okoronkwo: I knew he was good. But I didn’t know he was that good. I knew he was the second best quarterback in the Big 12 behind Baker. But I didn’t know he was—whooooosh.
Thomas: We’ve always known how good he was. But that game, he was just extra good.
Both offenses were clicking on every level all day. In the first two quarters, there were 54 points scored, and OU went into the half with a 30-24 lead. Oklahoma scored three touchdowns in the third quarter. And in the fourth quarter the game reached ludicrous speed, with 400 yards of total offense and 36 combined points in that quarter alone. After Texas Tech punted away its first possession of the third quarter, every drive ended in a touchdown until Oklahoma lined up in Victory formation, four hours and 10 minutes after kickoff.
Lewis: The thing about it is, offensively we were so confident we never thought we weren’t going to score when we were out there. Regardless of what the defense was doing, we were like, if they stop them, we are going to score. If they don’t stop them, we are still going to score.
Level: You don’t really understand what you’re seeing. It’s all happening so fast. I’m down there with a headset on trying to do the job, and you can’t even process what is going on before the next big play is happening.
Kingsbury: Pat broke a bone in his wrist that night. He landed on it early. They wanted to X-ray it, and he said ‘No, just tape it. Let’s go.’ After the game we found out it was a fracture. We braced it up the remainder of the year, and after the season he had surgery. It was one of those deals where he wasn’t coming out. Luckily, it was his left hand.
Andrews: Every time either one of the offenses touched the ball, you knew it was going to be a score, no matter what. You just don’t really see that, ever. Offenses clicking like that and scoring every time they touched the ball.
Lewis: It was a shootout. I had never been in a shootout like that before. It went back and forth. It was exciting. Especially for us, all them points, offensively, it’s fun.
Coutee: Baker would score, then Pat would score. For that to go on for four quarters, it was amazing to be a part of.
Jah’Shawn Johnson, Texas Tech safety: It was frustrating, honestly. Just seeing him throwing the ball over our head constantly. He had all these athletes, Dede Westbrook and all those guys. It was hard to stop. He was on point that day. He and Pat were going back and forth, and he ended up getting the last laugh.
Kinsbury: The main thing I remember was the number of incredibly talented players who all seemed to be in the zone on the same night. These are guys who are starting in the NFL and now having monster years that were on the field that night all having big games.
With starter Samaje Perine sidelined by injury, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon made the most of his opportunity. He produced 377 yards from scrimmage, becoming the first Sooner to ever reach 200 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game.
Level: Mixon was the best player on the field. He was a grown man. It was a man amongst boys looking at Mixon against what Tech had.”
Lewis: That was probably the best game I’ve ever seen him have. He did everything. Literally everything.
Level: I’m sure he still gives [Texas Tech defensive coordinator] David Gibbs nightmares. He still references Mixon to this day. We meet with him before every game. It’s like the Mixon Test. ‘He’s not like Mixon, is he?’ It’s probably ingrained in his brain forever.”
Even with Mixon’s remarkable game and all of the sundry offensive records broken, the day belonged to the two quarterbacks.
Mike Stoops, Oklahoma defensive coordinator, after the game: I’ve never seen that in my whole life. I’ve never seen that many guys open in one game.
Kingsbury: It was the best I’ve ever seen two quarterbacks play in college football going head-to-head. No matter what they did, it seemed to work.
Riley: There wasn’t anybody doing it better than those two.
Level: They just basically decided at some point in that game, ‘We’re not running it.’ The only runs after that were [Mahomes] scrambling.
Patrick Mahomes: One of my buddies who was my roommate my freshman year of college, he came up to me on the last drive and was like, ‘You have 77 pass attempts right now.’ I was like, ‘Man that’s a lot of passes.’
Level: Mahomes threw it 88 times and ran for 12. He accounted for 100 plays. You just don’t even realize what you’re seeing. And here, you’re numb to that. You’re numb to offensive numbers. They just kept handing us notes. ‘He just broke another record.’
Jah’Shawn Johnson: I remember when I went back to watch it again as a fan seeing Pat overthrow a couple balls, and there were a couple of receivers dropping balls. He could have thrown for almost 900-1,000 yards. That’s insane.
Lewis: You love scoring, you want to score touchdowns. And we weren’t getting field goals. We were scoring touchdowns, and kept scoring touchdowns
Stoops: We went man, they’d hit us on a route. We’d go zone, they’d hit a comeback route. It was just uncanny.
Kingsbury: As somebody who is a fan of quarterback play who takes a lot of pride in that position, to have two guys who you were able to work with and see them both playing at that level, you go ‘Wow.’ That’s something we may never see again—two guys playing at that high a level on the same night against each other.
Eventually both defenses realized that opposition was becoming futile. The game would be decided by which quarterback could make one more play than the other. And maybe, just maybe, one defense could make one decisive stop.
Okoronkwo: You get the feeling, Man, what can we do. We were trying everything. It just got to the point where the offense had to bail us out. We just weren’t clicking that day at all
Lewis: At some times we thought, all we need is one stop. But at the same time we knew, all we needed to do is just keep scoring. And we kept scoring.
Andrews: There was an understanding. Our defense didn’t give up or anything like that, they were fighting their hearts out. But they started to come over to us, and tell us we had to put the games in our hands. Which we did.
Parker: I can remember the defense being kind of down. At halftime trying to get back right.
Okoronkwo It was a very stressful game.
Lewis: You can’t blame the defense for everything. At the end of the day, we had to just keep scoring, and we are going to win and that’s what we did.
Stoops: There are no magical calls. Players have to make plays at some point in games. We came free on a lot of blitzes. We just couldn’t get to him. He got away from us every time we had him.
Andrews: In the fourth quarter, right before we took the field, I just remember the talk we had. It was, we have to score. Whoever had the ball last was going to win. So we have to score. We knew. It was an attitude that when we touch the ball, we had to score, or we were going to lose.
Parker: That was one of those games where defensively, the team that gets the most stops will be the team that wins. We ended up getting one or two stops, and our offensive took over, that was what put us over the top.
Mixon’s 42 yard touchdown with just over five minutes remaining turned out to be the game-winning score, as Oklahoma held on for a 66-59 victory. After two early-season losses, the Sooners didn’t lose a game for the remainder of the season and finished the year with a Sugar Bowl victory. Texas Tech finished the year 5-7.
Lewis: After the game, we were glad we got out of it, glad it went our way. It is a game of inches and we know it could have gone the other way. But it didn’t.
Thomas: Even though we got the win, it was a sloppy win from the defense perspective. If our offense didn’t do what they did, we wouldn’t have won that game.
Thomas: That wasn’t a game that I would look back on and be happy about. From a secondary standpoint, it was embarrassing for us.
Parker: Got the W. It wasn’t as pretty as we’d have liked it to be, as far as the defense. At the end of the day we got the W.
Okoronkwo: I remember just chugging Gatorades afterwards. When I think of that game I think of pure exhaustion.
Lewis: In the locker room we didn’t do much sitting around and talking after the game. We were partying. We really didn’t know how many records we had broken. We had to hear about it once we got back on the plane. Then we were like, damn, we broke a lot of records that day.
Coutee: The day after you see all the records that were broken like, damn how did we do that?
Lewis: And we still talk about it to this day.
Thomas: The defense didn’t play a historic game. That was historic for Texas Tech, and that was embarrassing for us. I’ll never look back on that game as a positive, even though we won.
Stoops: We had no control. At no time did we feel good in any aspect of what we were doing. Pressures weren’t good enough. Coverage wasn’t good enough. There was nothing good. We won. Our offense did an incredible job to help us, but it hurts when you don’t hold up your end of the deal in any game.
Mahomes: I wish we would have won, but it was awesome just to be a part of it. They had a ton of talent. We had a ton of talent. And I wish we’d have come out with the win.
Batson: I’m sure once we all get together we will all have a conversation about it, sit back and reflect on it. Definitely wishing we would have come out on top. But looking back, it was a great experience. We didn’t know about the records at all. Just playing the game to win. We were more upset that we lost. We really didn’t care about the records.
Andrews: You can’t really forget about a game like that. It was so special.
Kingsbury: It was kind of the perfect storm to have the greatest offensive output in the history of college football.
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