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Oklahoma’s Offense (And Run Game) Functioning at Full Capacity

Photo Credit: William Purnell/Icon Sportswire

When Lincoln Riley was brought on to the Oklahoma staff as the offensive coordinator, fans were promised an attack that could compete with anyone in the conference.

The Sooners were sorely disappointed last season after being outpaced by then little brothers TCU, Baylor, and even Oklahoma State. With the Big 12 averaging the highest point total in the nation, being able to give a fireworks show is becoming increasingly important.

Through its non-conference slate, Oklahoma seemed to affirm the notion that the offense was hot to the touch. Suddenly as underdogs, the Sooners were knocking on the door of the playoff committee. But after a loss to Texas in the Red River Rivalry, playoff hopes diminished.

However, it’s time that we consider that a fluke loss. That’s what happens in rivalries. Toss track records into the dumpster and don’t look back.

If winning by 55 points over Kansas State on the road didn’t convince the public that the Sooners are a team that responds to adversity, what they did Saturday in Norman—a performance that lit the Texas Tech Red Raiders on fire, 63-27—should certainly alert the nation of it.

While the Sooners had a better performance against Tulsa with 773 total yards, today’s performance— 617 total offensive yards—is their quintessential performance of the season.

That game against Tulsa was dominated by Baker Mayfield. He accounted for six touchdowns in the game but was aided by getting the ball back in his hands in a shootout with a Baylor-like Tulsa offense that put up 38 points.

Conversely, as was expected, Texas Tech’s defense was dominated on the ground by Oklahoma to the tune of 405 total rush yards. Samaje Perine rushed for 201 of those yards and four touchdowns, while Joe Mixon added 154 yards and two touchdowns of his own.

Now is the time to confirm what Riley promised Norman, as he said this preseason: No one would touch the ball as much as his running backs…

Through six games, that hardly appeared to be the case. Perine was struggling to average more than five yards per carry and had only scored three times. Leaning on Mayfield could only work so long, as the misstep in the Red Rivalry exemplified.

Now, Perine and  Mixon have suddenly emerged as a top-flight running back duo.

19 September 2015: Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) hands off the ball to running back Joe Mixon (25) during the University of Oklahoma Sooners game against the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricanes at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium in Norman, OK.  J.P. Wilson/Icon Sportswire

19 September 2015: Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) hands off the ball to running back Joe Mixon (25) during the University of Oklahoma Sooners game against the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricanes at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium in Norman, OK. J.P. Wilson/Icon Sportswire

Now, it’s not a question if Perine was a one time wonder. It’s how the offense can continue feeding him the ball. How can the offense get the most of out of his earthquake starting thighs?

Sure, Texas Tech was allowing 255 yards on the ground per game. But how Oklahoma stacked up to Baylor’s performance against the Red Raiders should speak volumes of what this offense is capable of.

Both Oklahoma and Baylor put up 63 points in their respective matchups. Baylor has a slight edge with 680 total yards, but the rushing production was very similar with both averaging 7.1 yards per carry. Because of the emergence of the Sooners’ running game, they also converted a season-best 10-of-13 third down situations.

We’ve long-expected that this isn’t just Mayfield’s show, but now it’s been confirmed.

The run game is back in town and operating at a level that can and will compare with the nation’s best rush attacks.

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