NORMAN — Baker Mayfield resembled a high school biology teacher Saturday night.
Oklahoma’s charismatic quarterback grabbed the attention of his classroom — a Memorial Stadium record crowd of 88,308 — by emphatically waving his arms toward them before the opening kickoff.
And then Mayfield, with a big assist from running back Rodney Anderson, promptly began dissecting some frogs.
The Sooners took sole possession of first place in the Big 12 Conference and, more importantly, thrust themselves deep into the College Football Playoff conversation with an impressive 38-20 victory over TCU.
It was a statement win for a football team that always seems to have doubters.
“I think we answered those questions tonight. There were a lot of doubts before. We rose to the occasion tonight,” said Mayfield, who threw for 333 yards and had three touchdown passes. “I said it last week. We are still getting better and better. We haven’t even hit our peak yet. We’re playing well right now. We’re getting better at the right time of the year and that’s pretty scary for the other teams out there. It’s good for us right now.”
Saturday might have been a sneak peek of the Big 12 Championship game. The teams would meet again on Dec. 2 in Arlington if both win their final two games.
Mayfield began the work week by challenging fans to be rowdy and they brought the noise from beginning to end in the dominating victory over the Horned Frogs.
Oklahoma (9-1 overall, 6-1 in Big 12) answered the call on the field with a scoring explosion against the Big 12’s top defense while putting together its best defensive performance since entering conference play.
“It was just a tremendous team win against a really good football team,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “I thought it was our most complete performance of the year as a team. We didn’t play perfect, but we really complemented each other well.”
Oklahoma (9-1 overall, 6-1 in Big 12) scored 38 first-half points for the second consecutive week.
What was the biggest difference between the Saturdays? This week’s offensive outburst came against one of the nation’s top defenses and not an Oklahoma State bunch which has had some struggles stopping people.
The Sooners’ victory continued positive momentum in their chase for one of the four coveted playoff spots, especially after some chaos in the college football world. Top-ranked Georgia and No. 3 Notre Dame were handily defeated, which gives fifth-ranked OU room to move up after beating No. 6 TCU.
OU took command in the first half by scoring six times (five touchdowns, one field goal) on its seven first-half possessions.
The Frogs’ defenders likely will have nightmares about Anderson, who finished with 151 rushing yards and caught five passes for a career-high 139 yards on four touchdowns.
Anderson had 15-yard and 24-yard touchdown runs plus 14-yard and 33-yard touchdown receptions against the Frogs.
OU’s defense has constantly taken hits, especially after last week’s OSU win.
On Saturday, it only allowed 20 points, the lowest total since Big 12 play started.
Du’Vonta Lampkin had a career-high four tackles, including his first sack.
“I was angry. Just a lot of talk going on. I just had to shut the world up really,” Lampkin said. “Just show them we have a good defense and we can do it all the time."
Two true freshmen — Tre Norwood and Tre Brown — drew the start at cornerback. They joined safety Robert Barnes as first-year players drawing important assignments in the secondary.
Mayfield didn’t hurt his Heisman Trophy campaign with Saturday’s performance.
The quarterback finished 18-of-27 passing for 333 yards with three touchdown passes and no interceptions. His arm wasn’t necessary in the second half, completing three of six passes for 34 yards.
The Sooners got on the scoreboard first thanks to a pair of special teams plays.
CeeDee Lamb’s 17-yard punt return — the longest of his career — set OU up at the TCU 44. After a fourth-down conversion earlier in the drive, Austin Siebert’s career-high 49-yard field goal made it 3-0 with 11:36 left in the first quarter.
Oklahoma’s defense forced a three-and-out on its first series, but didn’t do a good job after taking care of the lead.
TCU struck with a 42-second drive, going 75 yards on two plays to take a 7-3 lead. Kenny Hill hit Kyle Hicks with a 62-yard pass on a wheel route to set up Darius Anderson’s 13-yard run to make it 7-3.
OU regained the advantage on its next possession, with Anderson racing in 15 yards untouched to make it 10-7 with 8:41 remaining in the opening period. Lamb had another explosive play during the drive, picking up 47 yards on a third-and-3 play.
Grant Calcaterra caught his second career touchdown pass to increase the Sooners’ lead to 17-7. The 13-yard grab featured an outstanding throw from Mayfield and great catch by the freshman tight end.
Anderson’s 24-yard run gave OU a 24-7 lead early in the second quarter and, following TCU quarterback Kenny Hill’s 1-yard touchdown run, Anderson added his two touchdown receptions (14 yards, 33 yards).
No. 6 TCU at No. 5 Oklahoma
7 p.m. Saturday, Norman
TV: FOX • Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
Records: TCU 8-1, 5-1 in Big 12; Oklahoma 8-1, 5-1
Last meeting: Oklahoma beat TCU 52-46 on Oct. 1, 2016 in Fort Worth.
Series: Oklahoma leads 11-5
James Aydelott’s forecast: Mostly Cloudy, 55°