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By the Numbers: Baker Mayfield's big-game improvement obvious

FRISCO, Texas -- The first day at Big 12 Media Days was dominated by the crimson and cream.

Oklahoma was the big name Monday at the Ford Center at The Star, and we produced tons of content about the Sooners. OU beat writer Brooke Pryor wrote about rookie head coach Lincoln Riley's first appearance at the conference's football gabfest while her counterpart Ryan Aber produced a beefy journal with tons of newsy items, including the status of Will Sunderland and Austin Seibert. My fellow columnist Berry Tramel wrote about how much Bob Stoops will be missed in the Big 12.

I focused on Sooner quarterback Baker Mayfield, and when he started talking about his need to be better in big games, I knew that would be my column. After all, this is a guy who's finished in the top five in the Heisman Trophy voting each of the past two years, so pretty clearly, he's been good in big games. 

But Mayfield wants to be better.

Why?

He knows how important it is for his team to reach his goal of winning a national championship. It's a pretty heady realization, frankly.

I went back and looked at Mayfield's numbers in big games last year, and you can see how much of a corner he turned after the Ohio State game. Can he continue on this new road this season? That remains to be seen, but here's a look at just how much better Mayfield got a year ago and what he hopes to carry into this season.

Houston

24 of 33, 323 yards, two TDs passing, no INTs

Mayfield's overall numbers weren't terrible against the Cougars, but in the 33-23 loss, he had a critical second-half fumble and admitted after the game that he was pressing too much. He went for too many home-run plays instead of hitting shorter plays that would've kept the sticks moving.

Ohio State

17 of 32, 226 yards, two TDs passing, two INTs

The Sooners managed only 17 points on offense, and while the defense's struggles put Mayfield and Co. in a deep hole, they never got much of anything going in the 45-24 loss. After the game, Mayfield promised to be better moving forward.

TCU

23 of 30, 274 yards, two TDs passing, two TDs rushing, no INTs, two fumbles lost

After OU felt behind early on the road -- in part because of an early Mayfield fumble -- he orchestrated a huge comeback, accounting for four touchdowns. But then the offense sputtered in the second half. TCU scored 22 unanswered points, and OU had to hang on for dear life in a 52-46 win.

Texas

22 of 31, 390 yards, three TDs passing, one TD rushing, two INTs

Dede Westbrook's coming out party -- but Mayfield was a big part of the festivities. His deep-pass accuracy was stunning as OU outlasted Texas 45-40.

West Virginia

9 of 15, 169 yards, 2 TDs passing, 2 TDs rushing, one INT

Playing in a driving snowstorm, the passing was limited, but Mayfield was superb. What was supposed to be a road nailbiter was instead a 56-28 blowout, largely because of Mayfield's four touchdowns.

Oklahoma State

13 of 19, 288 yards, 3 TDs passing

The de-facto Big 12 title game solidified Mayfield's status as a Heisman Trophy finalist. He was as measured, though, as he was dynamic. He managed the offense to perfection in a 38-20 Bedlam beatdown.

Auburn 

19 of 28, 296 yards, 2 TDs passing

Mayfield shredded Auburn's defense, which was its strength. The offense was so effective that the Sooners went into cruise control much of the fourth quarter. Mayfield's numbers would've likely been even bigger if not for that.

 

 

Related Photos
Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (6) dives past Auburn's Tre' Williams (30) during the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Auburn University Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017.  Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (6) dives past Auburn's Tre' Williams (30) during the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Auburn University Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-87aaf25229aa4b70116ef29ff16c2225.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (6) dives past Auburn's Tre' Williams (30) during the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Auburn University Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman" title="Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (6) dives past Auburn's Tre' Williams (30) during the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Auburn University Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield (6) dives past Auburn's Tre' Williams (30) during the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Auburn University Tigers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›

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