Week 2 seems a little early to call a game a “must win” but an Oklahoma victory over Ohio State on Saturday would be incredibly meaningful to the Sooners.
Both national powers figure to be in the championship mix throughout the entire season, though a win for Oklahoma will have plenty of significance outside the College Football Playoff race.
Avenging last season’s loss
he Sooners were thoroughly handled on their home field by the Buckeyes in 2016 and are still having a difficult time getting past the 45-24 defeat.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield discussed the incident earlier in the week, noting it was humiliating to hear the Buckeyes sing their fight song on the Sooners’ field.
“We’ve never been here for a team to sing their fight song on our field,” Mayfield told Eric Bailey of Tulsa World. “Quite frankly it’s just embarrassing. It’s embarrassing. We let down our fans, our coaches and everybody that supports our program to allow them to sing O-H-I-O on our field.”
Saturday’s contest goes down in Columbus, and Oklahoma beating Urban Meyer and company at the Horseshoe would steal those bragging rights back. The Buckeyes haven’t lost at home since falling to Michigan State in 2015, so an Oklahoma road win would help heal the wounds of 2016 just a little.
Riley can put a stamp on the program
his weekend’s game isn’t going to make or break Lincoln Riley’s tenure as Oklahoma’s head coach, but a victory could make a major statement about his program.
No matter how successful Riley is in Norman, he’s always going to be compared to Bob Stoops, and it won’t be easy to live up to those expectations. The legendary head coach won 10 conference titles and a national championship with the Sooners, so Riley has a long way to go to escape Stoops’ shadow.
That said, if there was a criticism to be made of Stoops, it was that he didn’t win more national titles. Unless something unforeseen happens the rest of the way, a win over Ohio State on Saturday should keep the Sooners in the playoff conversation for the rest of the season.
Mayfield needs signature win
Mayfield’s been stellar during his two seasons at Oklahoma, throwing for 7,665 yards and 76 touchdowns. He’s been one of the nation’s top quarterbacks and a Heisman contender. What he hasn’t done, however, is secure a signature win to take the Sooners to the next level.
In 2016, Oklahoma lost to Houston in addition to the Buckeyes, effectively ending any hopes of making the playoff. The team made the playoff in 2015, but the Sooners were beaten handily by Clemson.
Mayfield is off to another hot statistical start this year, with a 19-for-20 performance to go along with three touchdowns in a win over UTEP. But in order to give himself a real chance at a Heisman Trophy and forever carve out a place in program lore, Mayfield needs that signature victory that will be remembered for years to come.
There’s no better scenario to achieve that than against Ohio State.
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