The Bedlam rivalry lived up to its name on Saturday, as Oklahoma topped Oklahoma State, 62-52, in a wild game.
I spent the day watching the two QBs in this matchup. The Sooners' Baker Mayfield and Cowboys' Mason Rudolph are two of the best signal-callers in college football, and they did not disappoint in their head-to-head battle. Mayfield racked up a school-record 598 yards, while Rudolph threw for 448 yards in the shootout. Both QBs threw 5 TD passes and 2 interceptions.
I polled 5 NFL executives earlier this week to find out which of these 2 QBs they preferred, and Mayfield received 3 of the 5 votes. I don't know if this game will change anyone's opinion of the 2 passers, but if you were someone who was high on Mayfield coming into Saturday's contest, you're walking around with your head held high now.
I think you're going to be hearing the Russell Wilson-Mayfield comp a bunch in the weeks and months to come. An NFL personnel executive I spoke to for an Ask 5 piece I wrote earlier this season made that comp, and it's looking pretty apt. From their size to their arm strength to their ability to make plays on the move, it's a comp that makes a lot of sense.
The only disclaimer I'd offer after watching that game: Both teams played very poorly on defense. No one is going to confuse those squads with the 1985 Chicago Bears. Keep that in mind.
Here are 5 takeaways from the performances of Mayfield and Rudolph on Saturday.
1. I was really impressed with Mayfield's arm strength on Saturday. He threw some beautiful deep balls.
Scouts want to see QB prospects that are explosive as throwers. Mayfield checks that box. He has some snap in his lower body as well as with his release.
He has more arm talent than I gave him credit for when I studied him over the summer. He's proving he has plenty of arm strength. That shouldn't be a concern for anybody.
2. Mayfield is an incredible competitor. He has a special ability to keep plays alive as he avoids pressure, and he brings tremendous energy to the field and the sideline. It's infectious. I received a text from a scout who covers Oklahoma during the game.
"(Mayfield) doesn't know anything but winning," the scout wrote.
The scout also mentioned Mayfield has never lost a road game since becoming Oklahoma's starter in 2015. That's true, and it's remarkable. It speaks to his competitive nature and resiliency in a hostile playing environment.
3. There are still areas of Mayfield's game that he needs to clean up. He took 4 or 5 sacks on Saturday that cost him field position when Oklahoma was in field-goal range. He needs to do a better job of getting rid of the ball when there's nothing there for him. He also threw a couple picks, the second of which reminded me of what we've seen from Sam Darnold at times this year -- a failure to realize underneath coverage.
The Sooners QB plays with no fear, for better or for worse.
4. Rudolph will be overshadowed by Mayfield coming out of this game, but Rudolph didn't hurt himself at all Saturday. He played well enough for his team to win, but the Cowboys just couldn't make stops on defense.
One of the confounding things about Rudolph is I think he's more accurate down the field than he is when he's throwing underneath and intermediate. He had several beautiful deep balls where he put nice air under the ball and dropped it in the bucket.
5. The major difference I see between Mayfield and Rudolph is the way the ball comes out of their hands. As I mentioned above, Mayfield is an explosive thrower. Rudolph has a smooth delivery, but he doesn't have a lot of snap to his release.
Rudolph definitely has the ability to be an NFL starter. He's just not a real dynamic guy.
The more I watch him, the more he reminds me of Matt Schaub, and that's not a knock against Rudolph. It's been a while since Schaub was a starter, but he went to a couple Pro Bowls earlier in his career.