NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley says he believes Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield ranks among the all-time great quarterbacks in college football history.
The numbers support Riley’s claim.
Mayfield is the first quarterback to finish in the top four in the Heisman balloting three straight years. He ranks sixth in NCAA history in both passing touchdowns (129) and total offense (15,402 yards) and 10th in career yards passing (14,320). He leaves as the all-time FBS leader in passing efficiency with a career mark of 176.0, topping Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford’s previous record of 175.6. His mark of 190.7 in three years at Oklahoma crushed Bradford’s previous school record. Only his freshman year at Texas Tech brought the overall total down.
Mayfield set the FBS record for passing efficiency in a season with a rating of 196.4 last year, then broke it with a 198.9 rating this season. Though the Sooners lost to Georgia in the Rose Bowl on Monday , Riley said Mayfield’s overall accomplishments put him “up there” with the greats.
“I would say how consistent and how efficient he played the position — he played the position more efficiently than anybody ever has,” Riley said. “And did it for a long period of time. We’re not just talking about one year. Did it with different sets of skill groups. Was a great leader.”
Mayfield walked on after transferring to Oklahoma from Texas Tech and led the Sooners to three Big 12 titles. The Sooners never lost in what the school calls “Championship November” with him at quarterback.
“Very few guys win three straight championships,” Riley said. “And the path he took to get there was a little bit obviously unconventional. Maybe a little bit tougher than most.”
Along the way, Mayfield helped other players gain prominence. Dede Westbrook won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best receiver in 2016, and Mark Andrews won the Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end in 2017.
Mayfield never won a national title, but he had several memorable performances. He led the Sooners to the College Football Playoff twice in three years and led the Sooners to a 35-19 win over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl after the 2016 season that turned out to be coach Bob Stoops’ last game.
This season, he led Oklahoma to perhaps its best non-conference win ever, a 31-16 victory at No. 2 Ohio State. He punctuated it by planting a crimson OU flag at midfield after the game . He outplayed Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and threw for a school-record 598 yards in a 62-52 win over Oklahoma State . In the return of the Big 12 Championship game, he passed for 243 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 65 yards in a 41-17 victory over TCU.
“There’s been a lot of great ones to play,” Riley said. “I don’t want to discount them, too. A lot of great ones that have played here. I’m not going to sit here and say he’s above this person or that person, but it would be a hard time to find anybody you’d put above him, too.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .
This story has been corrected to show Mayfield’s career efficiency rating was 176.0, including his freshman year at Texas Tech. Mayfield’s Oklahoma rating was 190.7.