NORMAN, Okla. — West Virginia closed the regular season on a two-game losing streak. One against Texas that stung, and one Saturday that simply stunk.
No. 4 Oklahoma built a 35-point halftime lead and coasted 59-31, giving Baker Mayfield a hero’s sendoff to the Big 12 championship game. West Virginia awaits a minor bowl berth in Tempe or Memphis or Houston — or perhaps Orlando if geography becomes the deciding factor.
Dana Holgorsen, whose team was picked sixth in the preseason Big 12 media poll, finished in a four-way tie for fourth place with Texas, Iowa State and Kansas State.
“Still proud of our guys,” he said. “We weren’t picked very high and we finished fourth in the Big 12. Still proud of our guys for fighting our way to a 7-5 record.”
Technically, Texas earned the mythical No. 4 bowl seed, considering it beat all the other fourth-place teams. West Virginia is fifth in that scenario.
Mayfield’s suspension lasts one series
Baker Mayfield’s crotch-grabbing incident last week forced him to sit out what amounted to a two-play suspension Saturday.
After Kyler Murray had Oklahoma zipping 70 yards in two plays on the first series, Mayfield entered on the second drive. His return was greeted by a second standing ovation, following the pregame senior day ceremony.
“I just decided I was going to do it one series, regardless of whether it was a 10-play drive,” coach Lincoln Riley said. “I didn’t want to have to make the decision in-game.
“And so first series went a little quicker than I thought, but it worked out fine.”
Mayfield tossed three touchdowns while hitting on 14-of-17 passes for 281 yards, a performance sure to keep him out front of the Heisman contenders.
“How loud they got when I first went in was something I’ll never forget. It means the world to me,” he said.
“I knew I was going to settle in and do my job. It’s more of a relief. It’s OK for me to grow and move on. If I’m progressing and becoming a better man, I’m proud that I can learn from my mistakes.”
Chippy plays spawns ejection
While Riley didn’t see what precipitated the ejection of offensive lineman Dru Samia, the Sooners coach said it appears officials handled the situation appropriately.
“In any game, if you throw a punch, you should be suspended or you should be kicked out, so if he did it, they made the right call,” Riley said.
After West Virginia-Oklahoma games have turned extra chippy the past two seasons, Holgorsen suggested it originates from the Sooners’ intimidation tactics.
“That’s what they do,” he said. “They’ve done it since I started competing against these guys in 2000. That’s what they are, that’s who they are, and you’ve got to be able to control it.
“I thought it hurt us last year but I thought we composed ourselves just fine this year.”
Hook-and-ladder goes awry
After Oklahoma opened the game with six consecutive touchdown drives, West Virginia had the ball at its 25-yard line with 13 seconds left before halftime.
Still time enough for the Sooners to sneak in another score.
West Virginia’s hook-and-ladder play became a turnover when Ka’Raun White misfired a toss to Gary Jennings. OU recovered at the 34 and Austin Siebert crushed a 51-yard field goal as the half expired.
“That one’s on me,” said play-caller Jake Spavital. “I convinced Dana to run it, because it’s a pretty good end-of-the half play.”