PASADENA, California — Red and white confetti rained down as players yelled and embraced, and in the middle of it all was Baker Mayfield. In a rare occurrence, Mayfield wasn’t the one celebrating. In his final game as a Sooner, the senior quarterback was on the losing end.
No. 3 Georgia defeated No. 2 Oklahoma 54-48 in a thrilling double overtime game that will go down in college football history. It didn’t just mark the end of the Sooners’ season, though. It marked the end of Mayfield’s college career.
“It’s set in,” Mayfield said. “I never get to put this jersey on again. I never get to play for coach Riley again. Yeah, it’s set in.”
Throughout his career Mayfield’s name has become synonymous with success. Baker Mayfield wins. It’s what he does. He won Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year while at Texas Tech. He won against Tennessee in double overtime. He won the Sugar Bowl. He won the Heisman.
Monday night, Mayfield lost.
It wasn’t for lack of trying, though. The star quarterback put on a show in the first half, going 13-of-18 for 200 yards and a touchdown.
The second half was a different story. Mayfield passed for just 14 yards in the third quarter as momentum shifted to the Bulldogs. Then, fans thought they might see the type of comeback performance Mayfield has become known for at Oklahoma.
Mayfield hit freshman receiver CeeDee Lamb for a 36-yard gain with 10 minutes left in the game. The next play he rushed for 22 yards. Two plays later he found senior fullback Dimitri Flowers in the end zone. Suddenly, the Sooners were back in it.
Despite all of Mayfield’s effort, for one of the few times in his career it wouldn’t be enough.
As Mayfield sat in the locker room, eye black smeared and voice hoarse, he did what he’s done numerous times: He took the blame.
The same as after the Sooners’ losses to Clemson and Ohio State, Mayfield blamed himself for not playing as well as he should have. Once they were up by 14 at halftime, they should’ve been able to seal the game, Mayfield said.
Oklahoma’s loss wasn’t due solely to Mayfield, though he wasn’t perfect Monday night. The quarterback who’s known for his accuracy threw a costly interception on the first play of the fourth quarter that resulted in a Georgia touchdown. It was only his sixth of the season.
“It was a terrible throw,” Mayfield said. “I missed Mark Andrews high. He’s (6-foot-5), I don’t know how you could miss him. I just sailed it too high.”
As Dominick Sanders ran toward the end zone after picking off Mayfield, the Heisman quarterback ran, tackling Sanders at the four-yard-line and showing the exact grit and determination he’s been known for his entire career.
That grit is part of why Mayfield will not only go down in Oklahoma history, but college football history. Yes, he’s been successful — throwing for 14,569 yards and 131 touchdowns in his career — but it’s the passion that he plays with that makes him stand out.
“He’s special man. It’s been an honor to be able to play with him and call him one of my best friends,” junior tight end Mark Andrews said. “The guy’s special. He’s going to go down as obviously one of the Sooner greats, but one of the all time greats in college football. What the guy’s been able to do is just unreal.”
He exudes emotion, which is something that has occasionally gotten him in trouble, but it’s also something that’s led fans to love him even more. From planting the flag at Ohio State to wearing a “TRAITOR” shirt ahead of OU’s game against Texas Tech to telling Baylor players he was their daddy to grabbing his crotch and yelling obscenities at Kansas, Mayfield has never restrained himself.
Monday night, he left Oklahoma fans with one last taste of the personality that’s captivated the nation. After Georgia missed a field goal, Mayfield made a throat slashing motion and said two words.
Little did he know that what he prophesied wasn’t the end of the game via an Oklahoma win, but the end of his own college career.
The exuberant, chippy Mayfield gave way to the somber version of the star as the emotions of being so close to his ultimate goal of a national championship but just missing it set in.
Soon, he will be without the coach he’s became so close with. Soon, he will be without the teammates he’s come to call his brothers.
“I grew up a Sooner fan. It’s been a dream come true playing for the University of Oklahoma, so it’s tough not being able to do that,” Mayfield said. “I talked to former teammates who are in the league right now — it’s just different. There’s something about playing for OU. It’s a family atmosphere. It’s something you can only dream of, and you’ve got to enjoy every little moment, the good and the bad.”