In a battle of two “Air Raid” offenses, it was the team who ran the ball with the most success that came away on top. Oklahoma (6-1) rushed for 405 yards on its way to a 63-27 win over Texas Tech (5-3) on Saturday afternoon in Norman.
OU quarterback Baker Mayfield was the one playing for revenge against his former team, but it was his backfield buddies—Semaje Perine and Joe Mixon—who led the way. The running back duo combined for 356 rushing yards and six touchdowns in the OU win.
The Sooners’ first scoring drive of the game was flawless, and they totaled eight plays before finding the end zone. Mayfield began the drive with a tough run for 14 yards, which seemed to bring life to the OU offense. A couple of plays later the Sooners faced a third down, but Semaje Perine took a handoff up the middle and surged for nine yards to keep the OU drive alive in Tech territory. An 11-yard catch-and-run by Durron Neal got OU to the 11-yard line, then on the next play Joe Mixon scampered untouched up the middle for a touchdown. OU led 7-0 with 8:18 remaining in the first quarter.
Texas Tech looked poised to respond on its next offensive possession, but OU captain Erik Striker had something to say about that. Striker went up to block down the Mahomes’ pass and ended up with a clutch interception, which he returned to the Texas Tech three-yard line.
On the first play of the OU drive, Perine took the handoff and absorbed a blow in the backfield from a Texas Tech defender, but the running back was able to keep his balance and pound the ball into the end zone to give OU a 14-0 lead with 6:39 left in the first quarter.
The OU offense was rolling, especially on the ground. The Sooners rushed for 104 yards in the first quarter, and Mixon’s rushing touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter really made a statement on how this game was going to go. Mixon took the handoff up the middle, made a strong cut to avoid a Tech defender, before carrying two more Red Raider defenders with him into the end zone for a 17-yard score. OU led 21-3 with 13:27 left in the second quarter.
The Sooners looked primed to put the game away on their next drive with the offense rolling along, but a Jarvis Baxter fumble deep in Texas Tech territory gave the Red Raiders life. Baxter was stripped and the ball seemingly bounced right into the Red Raiders’ hands and was returned all the way into OU territory.
Tech had a short field to work with, and Mahomes threw his first touchdown pass of the game from six yards out to make the score 21-10.
The sloppiness from the OU offense didn’t stop there, as Mayfield threw an interception on the third play of the next OU drive, and the turnover was returned to Sooner territory for the second straight time.
Texas Tech was able to capitalize yet again on the Sooner mistake. Red Raider running back DeAndre Washington broke a long run up the middle on third and short to make the score 21-17 in the second quarter.
OU was quick with a response on its next drive to put the Texas Tech resurgence on hold. Mayfield hit Sterling Shepard on a route over the middle and the shifty wide out spun away from a Tech defender while shedding another, before getting tackled after a 33-yard gain that got the ball to the 19-yard line.
Perine got the ball on the next three plays, and on his third run he slipped into the end zone from 10 yards out to give OU a 28-17 lead.
That score marked the first time that OU rushed for four touchdowns in the first half since the Texas game in 2012.
The OU offense didn’t appear to cool down during intermission, and the Sooners came out of halftime with an edge.
An 18-yard catch by Shepard over the middle got the drive going, but the 45-yard electrifying run by Mixon is what really stood out about the OU drive. Mixon ran left, and cut back multiple times towards the right side of the field before a Red Raider defender was finally able to bring down the redshirt freshman. Two plays later, Mayfield found Mark Andrews in the end zone for a 13-yard score that gave OU a 35-17 lead. The touchdown drive only took 46 seconds off the clock.
After allowing Texas Tech to tack on a field goal on its next drive, the Sooner offense was back at it.
OU went back to the run game to start the drive, and Perine made the most of his increased carries. The bruising runner found a gaping hole and turned on the jets for a 48-yard run to get the ball to the Texas Tech 27-yard line. Five plays later, Perine found the end zone for the third time in the game, this time from 6 yards out to give OU a 42-20 advantage with 7:04 remaining in the third quarter.
Texas Tech was diligent in its next drive, and the Red Raiders were able to cap off a long possession with a touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Mahomes.
Tech was within 15 points, but its defense wasn’t capable of slowing down the OU offensive attack.
On their next possession, the Sooners drove the ball 65 yards on nine plays, and capped off their drive with a 15-yard touchdown reception by Neal. The senior wide receiver ran across the middle and went up strong in traffic to haul in Mayfield’s bullet-pass. OU was back up 22 points with a 49-27 lead.
Perine scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run on the next Sooner drive, and Alex Ross got in the mix late in the fourth quarter when he scored a 10-yard touchdown for the final score of the game.
It was an incredible performance for the OU running backs against a bad Tech defense, and it’ll be interesting to see if Lincoln Riley opts to keep the ball on the ground moving forward. Perine totaled 201 yards and four touchdowns while Joe Mixon had 154 yards and two scores.
Mayfield completed 15 of his 22 pass attempts for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Neal led the Sooners with five catches that went for 44 yards and a score.
The Oklahoma defense played solid throughout the entire game, and even though they were bent, they never broke. Two of Texas Tech’s touchdowns came when the Red Raiders began their drives with great field position set up by turnovers from their defense.
Despite losing cornerback Zack Sanchez to an injury on the first play of the game, the OU defense was resilient with its ball pursuit, and totaled four interceptions. Striker, Frank Shannon, Dakota Austin and Dominique Alexander each had a pick on the day for the Sooners.
Shannon led the Sooners in tackles with 13, while Austin added 11 of his own while filling in for the injured Sanchez. Safety Ahmad Thomas totaled nine stops, while Alexander had eight tackles. Striker and defensive lineman Charles Walker each had 1.5 sacks each.
OU will be back in action on Saturday when they travel to Lawrence to take on Kansas (0-7).