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Throwback Thursday: Mahomes Magic

Mayfield vs. Mahomes on Oct. 22, 2016

Photo CC: USA Today Sports


(Or for those of us not living in England in the 16th century)


Election season is fast approaching, so go vote. But it’s important that we all have priorities straight. So I ask the question, which candidate is going to make fall weddings a federal crime? That’s a platform I can get behind. I understand that weddings are a celebration of love and unity. But when the wedding ends, the marriage continues.

However, college football only guarantees (typically) a fan 12 Saturday’s a year. Those 12 games don’t continue. They are finite. If a game is missed, a fan cannot truly re-live it. The moment is gone. A fan cannot get that time back and cannot build a lifelong story around it. I ask, how many of your friends are you willing to make this sacrifice for?

Technology is a great thing

Thanks to the advance of modern technology, not all is lost. Phones and network capabilities now keep the games at hand. And thank goodness that happened because, without my fully charged phone, I would have missed out on one of the greatest single performance in college football history.

The year is 2016. Texas Tech fans may or may not know it yet, but they are getting a first-hand look at the future face of the National Football League. The Patrick Mahomes-led offense opens the season scoring no less than 55 points in every game through the month of September and are 3-1. But then October rolls around and the offense “sputters” as they are only able to muster a combined 55 points in 2 games, dropping the Red Raiders to 3-3. Even after the 2 losses, the drama leading into the next game was palpable in Lubbock.

The “Traitor” returns

Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners were coming to The Jones. Mayfield’s story from Lubbock to Norman was well documented at this point. Hindsight shows that Texas Tech clearly got an upgrade at the quarterback position. But, without that crystal ball, Red Raider nation was still bitter over the breakup.

Image Credit: Spenser Davis/The Daily

As students poured into The Jones, I was busy throwing on a suit and tie

I was in Charleston, SC for the weekend as some close friends of both my wife and I decided to get married in the fall. This still confuses me because both are college football fans who attended colleges who treasure those fall Saturdays (Clemson and the University of Florida). Once the kickoff time had been announced for this game, I had pre-emptively told my wife I would be streaming this game on my phone. Fortunately for me, the ceremony was early enough that I would not have to muzzle myself during live action.


The game in its entirety is found at the bottom of the page. Specific moments in the game are referenced with the corresponding time on video

The start of the game could not have gone worse for Texas Tech. Not only does Oklahoma walk down the field on the opening drive for an opening touchdown, but then an ensuing fumble sets the Sooners back up for another quick strike to go up 13-0. Back in Charleston, with such a horrific start, I actually quit streaming the game and decided to socialize. Push notification could always bring me back. Sure enough, Texas Tech got it going. A defense stop came on the heels of a Red Raider touchdown, and with the game now 13-7, Mahomes got the offense to the Sooner 20 yard line. With a chance to take its first lead of the game (35:17), Reginald Davis III runs a post route through the Sooner’s secondary and is open for what would be a sure touchdown, but Mahomes throws the ball behind him and the pass falls incomplete.

Tech had to play nearly perfect to win this game

In this game, Patrick Mahomes would end up attempting an incredible 88 passes with a completion percentage of 59.1%. And while it’s expected that high efficiency would be hard to maintain with that many passes in a game, not all incompletions are created equal. Completion at the end of the 1st quarter that would have resulted in a 14-13 lead going into the 2nd quarter, instead of having to settle for a field goal, would have transformed this game immensely. Texas Tech would have demonstrated it had the ability to counter-punch Oklahoma’s toughest shots. But instead, the game rolls into the 2nd quarter with both teams now swapping touchdowns.

Momentum shifting?

The last 5 minutes of the 1st half gave both teams a chance to deliver answers that would have been pivotal for either team (1:10:38). The Texas Tech offense is on the Oklahoma 20 yard line and Mahomes under throws his receiver and it results in an interception and the Sooner offense taking over on their 2-yard line. On the first play, Joe Mixon burst through the middle for a gain of 35 yards (more on Mixon later). Oklahoma gets all the way to the Tech 19 yard line and decides to go for it on a 4th and 1. The Red Raider defense comes up with its biggest defensive play of the game and stops Oklahoma.

Texas Tech promptly drives down the field to take its first lead of the game, 23-17, with only 36 seconds left. Even with all of the missed opportunities early in this game, the Red Raiders were in a great position going into halftime. This was critical because Oklahoma was to receive the 2nd half kickoff. With Oklahoma starting on their own 25, most teams would likely have been content to just go to halftime. But not this high-power attack. 2 plays, 75 yards, and 18 seconds later, Oklahoma swiped the lead back from Texas Tech and the score was now 30-24 with a deflated fan base and team regrouping at halftime.

20 minutes to enjoy the wedding reception

I had actually stopped streaming the game after Tech went up 24-23 because there were only 36 seconds left in the half, “WHAT COULD GO WRONG?” he said. A push to the open bar was in order after I received the notification of what the actual halftime score was. But, it wasn’t going to stop me from squeezing in some dancing before the 2nd half resumed.

This game was not a true Mahomes vs Mayfield battle

Both of the quarterbacks, rightfully so, are the headliners from this moment in Big 12 and college football history. But here is also the reality; when the quarterbacks are removed from the offenses, look at the NFL talent comparison (round they were drafted in is in parenthesis):

OklahomaTexas Tech
Joe Mixon, RB (2)Keke Coutee, WR (4)
DeeDee Westbrook, RB (4)Dylan Cantrell, WR (6)
Samaje Perine, RB (4)
Orlando Brown, OL (3)
Mark Andrews, TE (3)
Bobby Evans, OL (3)
Dru Samia, OL (3)
Ben Powers, OL (4)

4 of the 5 offensive linemen Baker was protected by back in 2016 went on the NFL. He had NFL talent surrounding him wherever he wanted to go with the ball. Mahomes had to attempt 88 passes, in addition to leading the team in rushing with 12 rushing attempts. Mahomes was the focal point for 100 plays in a 4 quarter football game. Mayfield “only” attempted 36 passes and 2 rushes. Mayfield made some really nice throws in the game, but they were essentially from a pocket a QB would have during a 7-on-7 game. The game really was a battle between Mixon and Mahomes. Joe Mixon would go on to finish the game with 263 yards rushing, 114 yards receiving, and a combined 5 touchdowns.

Mahomes’ effort truly was magical

The 2nd half begins with Oklahoma scoring a touchdown and taking (what feels like) an insurmountable lead of 37-24. Both teams trade scores bringing the score to 44-31. On the next drive, the generational talent is on full display (2:07:16). The touchdown pass that brings the score to 44-38 highlights the types of things Patrick had to do all night to keep the Red Raiders in this game. The pocket breaks down, and he is forced to throw off balance with precision. Watch this play. Words do not do it justice.

4th quarter. Tie is gone, sleeves are rolled up. Much fun is being had in Charleston, but how will this game end?

The bride and groom are soon to depart the wedding venue, and there is no denying that the wedding and reception were a great time. My phone battery is fatigued, much like both defenses are at this point. I am just hoping that my phone allows me to see how this shootout ends. There is another volley of back-and-forth scores between the two teams to elevate the score to 59-45.

60 yards in the air

Back foot, off-balance yet again, Mahomes airdrops a beautiful pass into the arms of Keke Coutee (2:33:02). This is yet another example of the super-human plays Mahomes made all night. With 8 minutes left, it is a one-score game 59-52. Texas Tech is still in this game and can pull the upset. But, like the rest of the game, the defense had zero answers for Joe Mixon. With 5 minutes left, Mixon scampered for a 40-yard touchdown run to push the lead up to 66-52. Even in a game of 2-hand touch, Mixon wasn’t “tackled” on this last touchdown run.

The only thing missing from this game was an onside kick

5 minutes of gameplay was an eternity in this game, but for all of the quick scores in this game, the drive by the Red Raiders bled the clock down to 1:40 left after scoring a touchdown, inching closer with the score now at 66-59. At this point, the scoreboard operators’ fingers must be ready to fall off. Texas Tech lines up for the ensuing onside kick. There is no doubt if the Red Raiders recover this ball, they will go score a touchdown to take the lead. But the kick resembles are tailor-made double-play ball for a shortstop and is easily recovered by Oklahoma.

All isn’t lost yet. Texas Tech does have all 3 timeouts remaining. 3rd and 2, 1:26 remaining. Texas Tech hasn’t slowed Mixon down all night. But all it will take is one single moment to rise up and deliver. Oklahoma, for some reason, decides to have Mayfield run out wide signaling without question Mixon is going to run up the middle. I am convinced the defensive back could have left him out there wide open and no way Mixon throws the ball. But the surge by the offensive line, as it was all night, was too much and Mixon is able to fall forward for the first down.

My phone didn’t make it to the end of the game

My phone did die after Tech got the game to 66-59. But I didn’t see the on-side kick/end of the game. It was only until my wife and I made our way into a nearby watering hole in downtown Charleston in which I saw the final score. Different thoughts running through my head after seeing the final result were all over the spectrum.

How can a team score 59 points in regulation and lose?”

“I can’t believe Baker came back to the Jones and won.”

“Why is Mahomes so good?”

“This game would have been much better to watch not on a phone at a wedding. It deserved my full attention.”

“I am so hungry. Where is our ride? I will not watch Sportscenter tomorrow (knowing full well I am going to watch every highlight of this game). I’m tired. WHERE IS OUR RIDE?”

Patrick Mahomes’ legendary performance did come in a losing effort. And while certainly, it would have been a great win for the program, that doesn’t diminish what he accomplished that night. His full stat line reads:

Passing- 52/88, 734 yards, 5 touchdowns, 1 interception

Rushing- 12 carries, 85 yards, 2 touchdowns

This game will be one Red Raider fans will always have memories of, as they got to witness 1 man control the ball for 100 plays and nearly single-handedly out dual a team that 9 of 11 offensive players would wind up in the NFL. And while the result of this game will always sting, it’s safe to say that Mahomes would wind up getting the last laugh over Mayfield.

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