Anderson Huge Again in Rout of No. 6 TCU
Oklahoma senior quarterback Baker Mayfield draws the biggest crowd during postgame interview sessions, which makes sense given his remarkable three-year quest to win the Heisman Trophy.
Mayfield stands front and center, occupying the same space where head coach Lincoln Riley and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops previously shared their responses.
But there was a different setting following the No. 5-ranked Sooners' 38-20 dismantling of No. 6-ranked TCU on Saturday night at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Redshirt sophomore running back Rodney Anderson drew a bigger media gathering than Mayfield, which also makes sense given what Anderson and the offense did against one the nation's elite defenses.
The Horned Frogs entered the contest with the country's No. 1 defense against the rush. All Anderson did was shred that unit for 290 all-purpose yards.
TCU entered the contest with the country's No. 1 defense against the rush. All Anderson did was shred that unit for 290 all-purpose yards — 151 yards rushing on 23 carries (6.6-yard average) with two touchdowns, plus 139 receiving yards on five catches (27.8-yard average), both career highs, for two more scores. He became the only FBS player since at least 1996 to register at least 139 rushing and 139 receiving yards in a game.
The aw-shucks Anderson barely speaks above a whisper and consistently deflects credit to his teammates during interviews. This session was no different.
All-American offensive tackle Orlando Brown gave Anderson a boisterous shout-out as he exited the room. "Right there's a big reason why," Anderson shouted back at Brown while crediting the entire offensive line.
"Hey, Rodney. Shut up. I'm trying to talk about you." Mayfield kiddingly hollered, drawing laughter from reporters as he turned in the direction of Anderson, whose media scrum was 25 feet away.
The borderline bashful Anderson dropped his head and smiled. For that matter, players scattered throughout the interview room also were all smiles after OU made its biggest statement of the season since winning 31-16 at then No. 2-ranked Ohio State on Sept. 9.
TCU entered the contest with the Big 12 Conference's top scoring defense (13.9 ppg), rushing defense (69.7 ypg), passing defense (214.4 ypg) and total defense (284.1 ypg).
The Sooners offense surpassed all those Horned Frogs defensive standards with 5:29 still remaining in the second quarter after Anderson's 14-yard touchdown catch gave OU a 31-14 lead.
The Sooners led 38-14 at halftime, tying last week's season high against Oklahoma State for points in a half. It was the most points scored against the Horned Frogs since OU's 52-46 victory at TCU last season (a span of 17 games).
In the first half alone Saturday, the Sooners rolled up 395 yards on just 36 plays (11.0-yard average) against the Horned Frogs.
Oklahoma (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big 12) presumably will creep into the top four when this week's College Football Playoff rankings are updated Tuesday night. No. 1 Georgia and No. 3 Notre Dame both lost Saturday. Had No. 2 Alabama not survived in the closing seconds against Mississippi State, it would have marked the first time since 1966 the nation's No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 teams all lost on the same day.
Leading the way against TCU was the determined Anderson, who endured back-to-back, season-ending injuries his first two years with the Sooners. OU coaches and doctors were cautious during Anderson's recovery to allow the 6-foot-2, 218-pound running back out of Katy (Texas) High School ample time to heal.
Riley said Anderson gradually knocked off the rust that had formed due to inactivity. Anderson certainly has sparkled the last four games with 590 yards rushing on 87 carries (6.8-yard average) and 217 yards receiving on 11 receptions (19.7-yard average) for a combined nine touchdowns.
His Saturday performance came in front of a record crowd of 88,308 and included two remarkable over-the-shoulder catches in traffic, which came as no surprise to teammates. "He's always doing that in practice," said freshman tight end Grant Calcaterra, who hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to give OU a 17-7 lead.
"He was tremendous tonight," Riley said of Anderson. "He was awesome. He's got a unique skill set in that he can do it all — bring the power, ran through a lot of tackles and a couple of tremendous catches. He's been awesome for us several weeks in a row."
"He was tremendous tonight. He was awesome. He's got a unique skill set in that he can do it all."
- Lincoln Riley
Mayfield, who completed 18 of 27 passes for 333 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, said Anderson "absolutely was" the best player on the field against TCU. "He's just a man among boys and I'm just very happy for him because his work ethic is unbelievable and he's only getting better," Mayfield said. "It's his time to shine. He's better every week and I'm happy for him."
During one scoring sequence Saturday, while landing in the end zone, a clump of dirt wedged inside Anderson's facemask. Anderson took his helmet off and was about to clean it, but a jubilant Mayfield snatched away the helmet and cleaned it himself while trotting back to the OU sideline.
How many Heisman finalists out there would clean a teammate's helmet?
"Hey, he's a great teammate," Anderson said of Mayfield. "He's always doing stuff like that."
Anderson had more than earned his own private cleaning service.