Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon in surrounded by Ohio State defenders in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game in Columbus. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
COLUMBUS — Baker Mayfield put on a show and then planted his flag.
The Oklahoma quarterback owned the night. He starred in the game, then raced to the Block-O at midfield of Ohio Stadium at its completion, waving a Sooners flag that he stuck into the FieldTurf as the visiting fans went wild.
Mayfield and the No. 5 Sooners had their revenge, a comprehensive 31-16 victory against the No. 2 Buckeyes before 109,088 fans at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes’ offense sputtered, and Mayfield proved to be the difference. He threw three second-half touchdowns and completed 26 of his 34 passing attempts for 387 yards and no interceptions.
“He's a good player, really good player,” Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said. “I love his competitiveness and energy. We had him wrapped up, I want to say eight times, and he came out of that thing.”
Ohio State (1-1) lost its home-opener for the first time since 1978. The Buckeyes still have never beaten a top-five nonconference opponent at home.
The Sooners (2-0) controlled the game throughout, but the two sides went into halftime tied 3-3.
Thanks in part to a 56-yard kickoff return by Parris Campbell, Ohio State broke the touchdown drought on the first possession of the second half.
The Buckeyes drove 44 yards in seven plays. J.T. Barrett completed a pass to Binjimen Victor on a third-and-five for a first down, then running back J.K. Dobbins broke through the line for a six-yard touchdown run on the next play.
Despite four total trips inside the Oklahoma 20-yard line, it would be the Buckeyes’ only touchdown of the day.
“A couple good drives,” Buckeyes offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said, “then a couple drives got back out of rhythm, the passing game got out of whack, and the game got away from us.”
Oklahoma re-tied the game in short order. Mayfield completed three of four passes for 63 yards on the ensuing drive. He caught the Buckeyes in a blitz for Oklahoma’s first touchdown, on which he found fullback Dimitri Flowers wide open for a 36-yard touchdown that tied the game at 10.
Ohio State drove to the Oklahoma seven-yard line in response but gained only another yard, forcing kicker Sean Nuernberger onto the field for his second 24-yard field goal of the day.
A pair of punts later, Mayfield put on a clinic.
First, he escaped what looked like a sure sack for a 17-yard completion, which he followed with an inch-perfect throw on the run. His pass flew just over the outstretched hand of OSU cornerback Kendall Sheffield and into the hands of Mykel Jones for a 42-yard gain.
On the next play, he fit an 18-yard pass to Lee Morris into Ohio State’s zone defense for a touchdown, and Oklahoma’s first lead of the night at 17-13.
“When things break down – with all his great scrambling ability – he’s not looking to run the ball, he’s looking to make plays,” Buckeyes middle linebacker Chris Worley said. “He’s one of the best competitors to ever play against.”
The Buckeyes failed to convert a fourth-down on their next drive, and Mayfield drove the Sooners back down the field for another touchdown.
His escape on first-and-goal and subsequent flip to Trey Sermon led to a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Then it turned ugly for the Buckeyes. The Sooners picked off Barrett at the OSU 27-yard line on very the next offensive play following the touchdow.
With a short field, Mayfield converted a key third-and-eight for a first down, and receiver Jordan Smallwood scored on a three-yard run on the next snap to put Oklahoma ahead 31-13.
“We’ve been really focused this week,” Mayfield said. “Our preparation was great. It’s about putting it all on the line and doing your job.”
The Buckeyes’ last-ditch effort stalled at the Sooners’ 14, forcing Ohio State to rely on Nuernberger’s third field goal of the night.
Ohio State did not threaten again.
The Sooners outgained Ohio State 490-350 in the game.
Barrett finished 19-for-35 for 183 yards and an interception, a lackluster showing from the passing game that once again renewed questions about the Buckeyes’ abilities through the air.
With no margin of error for the rest of the season, Meyer said his team must correct its flaws, and quickly.
“The offense was bad,” Meyer said. “We're going to do what we do, and that's go back to work as hard as we possibly can, starting somewhat tonight and tomorrow and figure this thing out.”
Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard reacts to sacking Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield during the first quarter Saturday. BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH