Column: Two match-ups could determine OSU-Oklahoma


Five things you probably didn’t know about the state of Oklahoma:

1. The first governor of Oklahoma was born in Putnam County, practiced law in Ottawa and married a woman from Ottawa before moving on to New York City and Oklahoma.

Charles Haskell was born in West Leipsic in 1860. He became an attorney in 1880, set up a practice in Ottawa and married Lucie Pomeroy, of Ottawa, in 1881.

2. Oklahoma has a county named for General George Custer.

3. A Civil War battle was fought in Oklahoma in 1862 near the town of Pensacola. The Union lost.

4. Voice mail was invented by an Oklahoman, Gordon Matthews, who was born in Tulsa.

5. Geronimo is buried in Oklahoma at Fort Sill.

In the real world, history does matter. But does it matter in a football game?

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield seems to think it does. Or he’s trying to make it matter.

Earlier this week, Mayfield called Ohio State’s players singing their alma mater, Carmen Ohio, in the Sooners’ stadium after a 45-24 win last year “just embarrassing.”

“Everybody that was here for last year’s huge loss definitely remembers that. And we talked about it during camp,” Mayfield told the Tulsa World. “We’ve never been here for a team to sing their fight song on our field. Quite frankly, it’s just embarrassing. It’s embarrassing.

“Obviously we’re still thinking about that and it hurts. But we’ve still gotta go play football,” he said.

Mayfield is probably Ohio State’s biggest concern going into tonight’s rematch with Oklahoma. Not because of what he said but because of what he can do.

In last year’s win at Oklahoma, OSU was the only opponent all season to hold Mayfield below a 60-percent completion percentage (17 of 32) and his 226 yards in the air was his second-worst game of the season. Mayfield threw for 3,965 yards and 40 touchdowns with only eight interceptions, two of them against the Buckeyes, in 2016.

The good news for Ohio State’s inexperienced defensive backs is that he won’t throw 65 times like Indiana’s Richard Lagow did when he passed for 410 yards last week in a 49-21 OSU win. Mayfield has thrown more than 40 passes in a game only once in three seasons as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback.

The bad news is that Mayfield doesn’t have to throw 65 times. He led the country in pass efficiency last year and was a ridiculous 19 of 20 for 329 yards and three touchdowns in a 56-7 win over Texas-El Paso last Saturday.

After watching Lagow throw for more than 400 yards, the match-up of a secondary with three new starters against a Heisman Trophy contender like Mayfield makes some Ohio State fans nervous.

Maybe it should. But those defensive backs did get better as the Indiana game went on. Only 71 of IU’s passing yards came in the second half and the Hoosiers did not score in the game’s final 19:56.

Tonight’s game could swing on two match-ups. And both could be equally important.

OSU’s defensive backs against Mayfield is one. The other is Ohio State’s defensive line against Oklahoma’s offensive line in a meeting of two units which both have been called the best in the country at what they do.

If Ohio State dominates both those match-ups it could win easily. If they’re close, it will be a close game.

The prediction: Ohio State 35, Oklahoma 31.

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By JIM NAVEAU

jnaveau@limanews.com

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau