The showdown between two high-profile quarterbacks has been a staple of college football for years. This Saturday will be no different.
Another edition of high quality quarterbacks going head-to-head will be witnessed by thousands in the stands, and millions on television. Redshirt junior J.T. Barrett of Ohio State will be traveling to the home of the Sooners to square off with redshirt junior Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma in Norman at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Both leaders of their respective offenses have hopes of earning the Heisman trophy this season after coming close before. Barrett had a quality 2014 season before breaking his ankle against Michigan, ultimately ending his campaign. Mayfield played well last season, but after an early season loss, the Austin, Texas, native could not earn enough votes to be named as the best player in college football.
This year, both men are commanding teams that started the season with high hopes. The Sooners dropped their opener to a tough Houston team, but have managed to remain in the top 15 with a clubbing of the University of Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday. The Buckeyes are riding high after two blowout wins of less-than-quality opponents.
For OSU, this game is about validating themselves as a top-tier team deserving of a spot in the College Football Playoff. For the Sooners, this game is a chance to regain momentum and make their case to be one of four teams to enter the college football equivalent of the postseason.
Mayfield has looked like the quarterback that Bob Stoops has envisioned to lead his team, going 38-for-53 for 547 yards while slinging five touchdowns. Although a mobile quarterback, Mayfield has yet to show off his legs this season, losing a yard on his 13 total carries.
Barrett has also enjoyed success this season, going 35-for-53 passing with 498 yards and six touchdowns. Although he has produced well in the passing game, Barrett has gained 85 yards on the ground with three touchdowns, making him a dynamic threat to any defense.
Growing up less than three hours apart from each other, both men enjoyed successful high school careers. Mayfield is a former three-star recruit, while Barrett is a former four-star, dual-threat recruit.
The paths to starting quarterback have been starkly different for each player. After a successful season at Texas Tech, Mayfield was blocked from transferring to Oklahoma in a confusing and drawn-out affair with his former team.
For Barrett, the path to stardom was much smoother. After having a desire to attend Texas, he received offers from the Buckeyes, and found himself in the starting role by his redshirt freshman year.
Saturday will mark the third time the teams have met, with the all-time record at 1-1 between the two. Each quarterback has the chance to solidify their legacies on one of the grandest stages of the year.
With the possibility of a shootout looming, one thing remains certain about both quarterbacks. Both Meyer and Stoops trust their quarterbacks to take their respective programs to the peak of college football.