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Baker Mayfield spurs No. 4 Sooners to rout of West Virginia

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was benched for

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was benched for the first series of the game, finds some space out ahead of West Virginia safety Dravon Askew-Henry, left, and defensive lineman Ezekiel Rose in the second quarter during the Sooners' 59-31 victory on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, in Norman, Okla. Credit: AP / Sue Ogrocki

NORMAN, Okla. — Baker Mayfield began the week with tears and an apology.

He ended it as he so often has — with a victory.

The Oklahoma quarterback passed for 281 yards and three touchdowns after being punished for directing a lewd gesture toward the Kansas bench last week, and the No. 4 Sooners routed West Virginiam 59-31, on Saturday to maintain their momentum heading into the Big 12 title game next Saturday in Arlington, Texas, against No. 12 TCU.

Mayfield was stripped of his captaincy and starting job for Saturday’s contest, his final home game as a Sooner. He received the loudest cheers when the seniors were announced.

“The first steps on the field made that all go away,” Mayfield said. “They [the fans] are always going to have my back. It’s OK for me to grow and learn and move on. If I’m progressing and becoming a better man in their eyes, that’s something I’m proud of. I’m going to learn from my mistakes.”

The Sooners scored touchdowns on all five possessions Mayfield played in before halftime, and on all six drives he completed in the game. Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley was pleased with the way Mayfield handled the week’s events.

“His last game here, no matter how you draw it up, was going to be emotional,” Riley said. “I was proud of him. I thought he held it in check. He was definitely emotional before — I know a lot of thoughts were running through his head. So for him to play the way he did considering all the circumstances was again why the guy is the best.”

Mayfield completed 14 of 17 passes in a nearly flawless performance likely kept him at the front of the Heisman Trophy race.

“[No.] 6 is the best player in college football,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “He has a lot of really good people around him.”

Rodney Anderson ran for 118 yards and four touchdowns for the Sooners (11-1, 8-1). Oklahoma gained 646 yards. It was the most points the Sooners have scored against the Mountaineers (7-5, 5-4).

It was a chippy contest in the first half, and it reached its peak when Oklahoma right guard Dru Samia was ejected after an altercation in the second quarter. It didn’t stop the Sooners — just two plays later, Anderson scored his third touchdown of the game from 17 yards to give the Sooners a 28-10 lead. Mayfield ran over to the sideline, jumping up and down, waving his arms up and exhorting the crowd.

Kyler Murray, a transfer from Texas A&M, started in Mayfield’s place and took off for a 66-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Anderson scored on the next play to put the Sooners up 7-0.

Murray, a transfer from Texas A&M, completed both of his passes for 52 yards and a touchdown and ran three times for 80 yards. For the season, he has completed 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 13 times for 142 yards and another score.

West Virginia’s Chris Chugunov passed for 137 yards in his first start. He stepped in for Will Grier, who injured a finger the previous week against Texas. Kennedy McKoy ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns for the Mountaineers (7-5, 5-4).

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