LAWRENCE, Kan. — On his way to the bus, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield stopped outside the visiting locker room at Memorial Stadium to sign a handful of autographs for wide-eyed kids who clearly idolize him.
Their opinions of him hadn’t changed over the course of a blowout win over Kansas.
Those of many other people probably did.
After getting dissed by the Jayhawks’ captains during the coin toss, the Heisman Trophy front-runner spent the rest of an otherwise ho-hum 41-3 victory trading insults with them. At one point he told Kansas fans behind the bench to “go cheer on basketball,” and after throwing his third and final touchdown pass, video cameras caught him grabbing his crotch and cursing at the opposing sideline.
“I got caught up in a competitive game, a chippy game, but what I did tonight was unacceptable,” said Mayfield, who threw for 257 yards in just over three quarters. “It’s disrespectful. It’s not the example I want to set. It’s not the legacy I want to leave. I truly do apologize.”
Everything began when Mayfield tried shaking hands with Daniel Wise, Dorance Armstrong Jr. and Joe Dineen Jr. after the coin toss, but they stared stoically back at him. Mayfield quickly pulled his hand away, clapped a couple of times and set about burnishing his Heisman Trophy candidacy.
He threw TD passes to Rodney Anderson and Marquise Brown in the first half, then founded Mark Andrews late in the third quarter, which prompted more insults between Mayfield and the Jayhawks.
That was the point when he grabbed his crotch and cursed the Kansas sideline from his own bench.
“It was chippy from the second their guys decided they didn’t want to shake our hands,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “Despite all that, there’s no excuse for it. Baker’s a competitive guy.”
Riley said he would need to see video of the game before deciding whether punishment was needed, but he did point out that Mayfield was repeatedly hit after the whistle.
“I’m proud of our guys for getting to a point and not just — you’re not going to take it anymore,” Kansas coach David Beaty said. “You’re going to stick your feet in the ground and you’re going to defend your grass. I think we got to display it better than that, obviously, but I get it.”
The histrionics added at least some interest to a game that figured to be a blowout. The Sooners (10-1, 7-1) are fourth in the College Football Playoff ranking and clinched a spot in the revived Big 12 title game, while the Jayhawks (1-10, 0-8) have yet to beat a Football Bowl Subdivision foe.
Mayfield got most of the fourth quarter off as the defensive-minded Sooners won their 17th straight road game and 15th in a row in the Big 12, setting a league record. It was also their 12th consecutive win over the Jayhawks, their longest winning streak against any opponent.
Carter Stanley had 117 yards passing for Kansas. Khalil Herbert had 37 yards rushing.
The Jayhawks actually forced the Sooners into four three-and-outs in the first half, one of the worst defenses in the nation holding in check one of its best offenses. But they still trailed 21-3 at the break as a result of their own miscues more than anything else:
— The Jayhawks held Oklahoma to fourth-and-3 at their own 34-yard line, and had Mayfield in trouble when they inexplicably stopped covering Anderson. He caught a pass in the middle of the field and outran the defense to the end zone to give the Sooners a 7-0 lead.
— Deep in the Jayhawks’ own territory, Stanley skipped a pass off the hands of wide receiver Evan Fairs that was picked by Emmanuel Beal. Jordan Smallwood scored three plays later for a 14-3 lead.
— And late in the first half, after the Sooners took over at their own 16, a 30-yard pass play was augmented by a roughing-the-passer penalty. The Jayhawks got hit with defensive holding on the next play, and Brown’s 24-yard TD catch with 10 seconds left capped a three-play, 84-yard drive.
The Sooners eventually hit their stride in the second half, when the animosity between their star quarterback and the Kansas defense reached a crescendo, and easily pulled away.
“They have great players on defense. They kind of set the tone with how they were feeling with the coin toss,” Mayfield said. “They did a great job of being physical. It’s a team that’s given us fits.”
Oklahoma could have run up the score but instead coasted, perhaps a result of the friendship between Riley and Beaty. Still, it was an oft-underwhelming performance by a team with national title hopes.
Kansas hardly had reason to celebrate Senior Day. Less than half the announced crowd of 22,854 showed up, and half of that were Oklahoma fans. The coin-toss snub and the embarrassing antics toward Mayfield by several people on the Jayhawks’ sideline only underscored a dismal home finale.
Oklahoma wraps up the regular season against West Virginia next Saturday.
Kansas concludes the season at No. 13 Oklahoma State next Saturday.