Here at the O’Zone, we frequently find ourselves in heated sports debates. So, like any blogger worth his word processor, the best way to hash it out is with the written word. Each week, a pair of O’Zone writers will take turns defending one side of the latest divisive topics in the sports world, and you, the reader, will determine the winner. This week, we’re taking on Big 12 quarterbacks. Who’s the best? OU’s Baker Mayfield or Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes?
Point: Baker takes the cake among Big 12 quarterbacks
When Mayfield isn’t delivering cookie cakes to Baillie Burmaster’s front door, he is the best quarterback in the Big 12.
First off, Mayfield is a more accurate quarterback. On the stat sheet, Mayfield completed 68.1 percent of his passes, while Mahomes completed 63.5 percent of his. Five percent is a marginal improvement. However, on film, Mayfield is better at leading his receiver and is more accurate downfield. This can be seen in the interception numbers.
Mahomes’ 15 interceptions are more than double Mayfield’s seven interceptions. Mayfield and Mahomes have similar numbers on the ground. Mayfield rushed for 405 yards, and Mahomes rushed for 456 yards. Mahomes has the edge in total touchdowns, accounting for 46, while Mayfield accounted for 43 touchdowns. This stat is misleading.
Although Mayfield does not have the edge in total touchdowns, Mayfield is still the better talent. You have to keep in mind Mahomes was the only option the Red Raiders had on offense, but Mayfield had to split touches with outstanding running backs at Oklahoma. If Mayfield had been the only option for the Sooners, his numbers would be higher because he would not have to give away touches to Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. Perine and Mixon combined for 23 rushing touchdowns. Texas Tech’s primary running back, DeAndre Washington, rushed for 14 touchdowns. If Mayfield had nine more touchdowns to his record, he would likely have been in New York for the Heisman presentation.
Mayfield was also a Heisman candidate but was not a finalist. This means he was in the discussion for the most outstanding player in college football. Mahomes was not in the Heisman discussion. Mayfield beat out Mahomes for the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year award for the 2015 season.
Counterpoint: Mahomes quietly the best among Big 12 signal-callers
O’Colly Assistant Sports Editor,
Maybe if he didn’t play football in a city known for selling T-shirts emblazoned with “Keep Lubbock Boring,” Patrick Mahomes would get the respect he’s earned.
Quarterback play dominates the Big 12; it’s not a secret. A Big 12 quarterback has finished in the top 10 among Heisman vote-getters every year since 2007, with names such as Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III and Trevone Boykin dotting those lists. OU’s Baker Mayfield undeservedly found himself on that list last season over Mahomes.
So what if Mayfield had a more accurate campaign? Mahomes was asked to pass 178 more times than his Sooner counterpart with less talent around him. Only one FBS quarterback was asked to throw more. So what if Mayfield throws a prettier deep ball? Mahomes would too if he wasn’t running for his life after every snap. Watch the tape. Virtually every Mahomes highlight features the junior quarterback evading multiple pass rushers to throw the ball across his body into a tight window. More often than not, Mayfield had a pocket so clean Martha Stewart would shed a tear.
Sure, Mayfield was good. He made the plays when it mattered most, Orange Bowl performance aside, but a team surrounded his talent and allowed it to take center stage. Mahomes elevated the talent around him, dragging a poor Texas Tech team to seven wins.
Mayfield’s leading receiver, Sterling Shepard, was taken in the second round of April’s NFL Draft. Mahomes’ favorite target, the diminutive speedster, Jakeem Grant, was taken in the sixth round. Shepard put up 1,288 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Grant had 1,268 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Similar numbers, but pro scouts deemed Shepard the better talent for more reasons than a 3-inch height difference.
Not to mention, Mayfield’s Sooners had three defensive players chosen in the draft, as the Oklahoma defense limited opponents to 364.5 yards and 22 points per game. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders allowed 547.7 yards and 43.6 points per game, good for the second-worst marks in the conference behind winless Kansas.
Texas Tech’s lack of defense meant Mahomes was often asked to play from behind or with a slim lead. Mayfield needed only but a couple of touchdowns on the board before handing the ball off to the Sooners’ two-headed monster of Perine and Mixon as he coasted to another easy victory, while Perine and Mixon put up more than 2,000 yards of offense on the ground.
Not sold yet? Only one FBS quarterback put up more total yards than Mahomes – Clemson quarterback and Heisman finalist Deshaun Watson. Watson finished the year with 5,209 yards of total offense and 47 touchdowns.
Mahomes had 5,109 yards and 46 touchdowns.
And he did it in two fewer games.