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Oklahoma football: Sooners' receiving corps plays big role in championship victory

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Mykel Jones

Sophomore wide receiver Mykel Jones runs the ball in for a touchdown during the Big 12 Championship game Dec. 2.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Coming into the season, questions loomed about who senior quarterback Baker Mayfield would have to throw to with Dede Westbrook gone to the NFL and so much young, inexperienced talent to take his place, but Saturday the Oklahoma receiving corps again proved it could shine on a big stage.

Oklahoma (12-1, 8-1 Big 12) beat TCU (10-3, 7-2 Big 12) 41-17 thanks in part to the efforts of the Sooner receivers, who accounted for all of Oklahoma's offensive touchdowns.

Junior tight end Mark Andrews was the Sooners' leading receiver. Andrews caught two touchdowns in one game for the first time this season and the third time in his career, and both came in the first half alone. 

The true test for the offense came with the start of the third quarter, though.

In the week leading up to the conference championship game the Sooners talked about not falling off in the second half offensively like they had the first time they played TCU, when they didn't score after halftime.

"Last week we felt like we didn't play our best offensively — and the last time we played TCU," sophomore wide receiver Marquise Brown said. "So we just wanted to come out and execute because they're a good team, so we just wanted to take advantage of each drive."

Saturday they did exactly what they said they wanted to do. Oklahoma scored twice in just 39 seconds of possession to start the third quarter. Sophomore wide receiver Mykel Jones started it off when he made the first touchdown catch of his career on a 55-yard reception. On the next drive it was Brown who caught another deep ball for another touchdown.

"I wouldn't say it was just the whole game plan was to go deep the whole time. It just happened that we had some guys open," Mayfield said. "Marquise Brown is so fast it creates mismatches, and he's one of the reasons there were many deep balls today."

The Sooners have continued to provide endless options for Mayfield to throw to. After Jones made his catch, 13 different receivers had made touchdown receptions on the year, the most in the Big 12.

Oklahoma has found a strength this season in its ability to use multiple targets — six receivers were targeted Saturday, and five recorded at least one reception — when in recent years it has relied on one star.

The receiving depth on the offense will be important, not just for a likely playoff run, but for the future. Most of the Sooners' receiving corps is young. Jones, Brown, freshmen CeeDee Lamb and Grant Calcaterra are all examples of the bright future Oklahoma has at the receiver position.

"I feel like this offense is very explosive at this point," Jones said. "Obviously we still have a lot of work to do, but we get the job done."

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Abby Bitterman is a journalism and political science senior covering sports for The Daily.

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