Spencer Rattler and the Sooner offense found themselves stalling in the third quarter of No. 18 Oklahoma’s 41-13 victory over No. 14 Oklahoma State on Saturday.
The redshirt freshman — who led the team to three touchdowns on its first three possessions of the game — was looking for answers after OU (6-2, 5-2 Big 12) started the second half with a three-and-out and a missed field goal on its first two drives. As Rattler pondered on the sideline, redshirt junior H-back Jeremiah Hall came over to check on him.
Hall needed to know if the young quarterback’s mindset was still the same as before the game started.
"I was just like, ‘(stay) cool, calm and collected,'" Hall said. "And he was like, ‘yeah, nothing’s changing.'
"That type of attitude is one that you love to see, especially from a young guy. Where I’ve seen him grown is (dealing with) mental adversity, and that was on show tonight. He played great."
After Hall’s check-in, Rattler rediscovered his first-half spark and found Hall for a 30-yard touchdown pass on a perfectly-executed trick play at the start of the fourth quarter. He finished the night with 301 yards and four touchdowns on 17-of-24 passing, along with a single rushing touchdown. His overall performance didn’t just rival that of his best of the season — it rivals that of his predecessor’s Bedlam performances.
Oklahoma’s play design remains insane pic.twitter.com/JeEnH3f3A1— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 22, 2020
Rattler’s five total touchdowns and quarterback rating of 97.2 top what Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray posted in their lone games against Oklahoma State (5-2, 4-2 Big 12). Hurts recorded three scores against the Cowboys with a 86.3 QBR in 2019, while Murray just had one score and a 78.2 rating in 2018.
In fact, Rattler’s Bedlam performance best compares to Baker Mayfield’s in 2017, when the Heisman winner had six total touchdowns, 598 passing yards and the exact same quarterback rating of 97.2. However, Rattler’s numbers came in 19 fewer passing attempts and without the assistance of three-future NFL receiving threats in Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews and CeeDee Lamb.
"I told myself I needed a big game, especially in this one,” Rattler said. “I (went) out there and trust the process. Guys around me played really well and helped me out, (our offensive line) blocked well, receivers caught the ball (and) the defense played well. It’s just me out there. Everybody played well and that contributed to the statsheet."
Even outside Bedlam, Rattler’s game is still historic. Only three other Oklahoma quarterbacks — Murray, Mayfield and Sam Bradford — have had four touchdown passes and at least one rushing score in a single game.
Spencer Rattler TD and a pair of ankles as a souvenir pic.twitter.com/9OgswtV7Te— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 22, 2020
"Spencer did Spencer things today,” sophomore receiver Theo Wease said. “We had a great two weeks in practice, and honestly, he was doing everything he could in practice so I knew it was just going to translate to the game. I feel like he’s more comfortable out there with just being himself, trusting everything and executing plays very well."
Although Rattler now shares an impressive feat with three Sooner Heisman winners, it’s unlikely the Phoenix-native will join them in holding the elusive trophy — this season, at least.
But Rattler’s production, in addition to boosting Oklahoma back into the Big 12 title picture, glimpsed just how effective he can be in a primetime setting. Going forward, if Rattler matches this level of play night in and night out, maybe he’ll eventually follow in his predecessor’s paths to New York.
To one day get that invite, he’ll have to be consistently great, something his teammates say is already happening.
"Everyday, Spencer, in practice, is coming up,” sophomore linebacker David Ugwoegbu said. “I almost turn into a fan watching him and that’s exactly what it was today... I just love watching him throw the ball and watching him go through his reads. You wouldn’t think he’s a young (quarterback)."