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The Vegas total for the Cleveland Browns-Pittsburgh Steelers matchup on Thursday Night Football is currently hovering between 41 and 42, depending on where you’re looking.
That means this game probably won’t exactly mirror the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State shootout that ended with Sooners walking away winners of a 62-52 shootout in November 2017, the last time Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State) went head-to-head in a game. Together, they combined for more than 1,000 yards of offense and accounted for 11 of the game’s touchdowns.
“The last one I played with him in college was a good one, an exciting one,” Mayfield told reporters this week.”But I think it’s all a little bit different now.”
In three starts against Oklahoma State, Mayfield went 3-0. He and Rudolph will square off once again, this time in the heat of an AFC North rivalry rather than a Bedlam battle. Certainly, there will be more defense this time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t relive the offensive glory from Nov. 4, 2017.
That night in Stillwater, Mayfield’s performance put him on the fast track to take home the Heisman Trophy, which he hoisted in New York a month later. He completed 24-of-36 passes for 598 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions, while adding a score on the ground. Rudolph wasn’t as efficient (28-for-54 for 448 yards), yet matched Mayfield with five touchdowns and a pair of picks.
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Baker Mayfield celebrates on the field after Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State, 62-52, in 2017.
The breakneck pace of the contest led to a prolific first half of scoring, as the Cowboys and Sooners entered halftime tied at 38. Oklahoma pulled away in the second half to emerge victorious and continue its drive to the College Football Playoff.
It also marked Mayfield’s third straight win over a rival. In 2016, Mayfield had three touchdowns in a 38-20 win, while Rudolph threw for 186 yards and rushed for a touchdown. The previous year, in a 58-23 throttling by the Sooners, Mayfield was 17-for-25 with three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) and 180 yards. Rudolph came off the bench in that game and all three of his attempts fell incomplete.
“You want to win every game you can. And do your rival games hurt more when you lose? For sure,” Rudolph said. “You wouldn’t be human if you said otherwise.”
Upon the conclusion of their college careers, the paths of Mayfield and Rudolph diverged. Cleveland took Mayfield with the top overall pick that April, and Rudolph headed to Pittsburgh as a third-rounder 75 picks later.
Mayfield took over as the Browns starter early last season and won Rookie of the Year, while Rudolph held a clipboard until Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury in Week 2. He’s been Pittsburgh’s starter since, save for the one game he missed with a concussion.
“I have been around Mason for a while just in college playing him, in-state rivalry,” Mayfield said. “Mason is a great guy. He is playing well, taking care of the ball, putting them in a good position to win.
“I think it is interesting, especially because now it is division rivals, as well, not just from college, so I am looking forward to it.”