DALLAS -- Baker Mayfield, still wearing his jersey and pads while his teammates were in T-shirts, sat in Oklahoma’s news conference listening to a question about the go-to receiver sitting to his left.
How good was Dede Westbrook? Mayfield came up with a good answer, like he did so many times Saturday in a 45-40 win over Texas. He grabbed the stat sheet in front of him.
“Ten catches, 232 yards and three touchdowns,” Mayfield read to reporters. “A long of 71. Let’s see here ... a 42-yard touchdown pass, a 47-yard touchdown pass.”
The Red River Rivalry creates legends, and this year’s game was a massive coming-out party for a wide receiver who grew up 150 miles south of the Cotton Bowl.
Oklahoma has had some record-breaking receivers during coach Bob Stoops’ tenure. But Sterling Shepard, Ryan Broyles, Mark Clayton and all of those who came before Westbrook never put up 232 receiving yards in one game.
The young man who now holds the Sooners’ single-game receiving record hails from tiny Cameron, Texas, and he had to make a stop at Blinn Community College before joining the Sooners last season. Playing in this big game was a dream come true, but so was just getting to OU in the first place.
“It means a lot to me,” Westbrook said of his record. “Coming from a small town, it’s really not possible for many of us to make it out. The odds are very low for us. For me to beat the odds and come out and be brilliant at the next level feels great.”
Brilliant is a good way to put it. He delivered the big highlight of a sloppy, low-scoring first half by hauling in a 71-yard bomb from Mayfield. The receiver then scored his 42-yard touchdown early in the third quarter, when he shook Texas corner Holton Hill with a swift double move and broke wide open downfield. But Westbrook really showed his brilliance on his third and final score -- the play that broke the school record.
Mayfield dropped back with a 28-27 lead and 5:47 to go in the third. He didn’t need much time to find Westbrook, who’d snuck between a pair of Texas defenders playing zone coverage. Those defenders were a bit fooled, thinking the ball was going to Mark Andrews, who was running behind Westbrook on the switch.
“Great play, great throw,” said Texas safety Dylan Haines. “They were able to hit us in the soft spot of our defense. I think because those guys were so close, I think people didn’t know who the ball was thrown to from reading the quarterback’s eyes. So late break on it, bad angle.”
Westbrook hauled in the pass at the Longhorns' 35 and turned upfield, darting between Haines and linebacker Timothy Cole. Linebacker Edwin Freeman hunted down Westbrook, but he twisted out of the tackle and tumbled into the end zone, putting the Sooners firmly in charge.
“When he’s healthy, nobody can compete with his speed,” Mayfield said. “That’s the thing I’ve always loved to exploit is the fact he can outrun people and he has track-type speed. That’s why I throw it to him.”
Westbrook had been dealing with a pulled muscle since the start of fall camp; the injury caused him to miss practices and slowed him a bit early in the season. Last week, he was full speed and back to full impact: 158 receiving yards and two TDs against TCU.
Running back Samaje Perine says a healthy Westbrook has the kind of breakaway speed most people can’t match. Most guys, Perine says, can only do what Westbrook does in quick bursts. The difference with Westbrook?
“He knows what to do when he gets the ball,” Perine said.
Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley was asked what he liked about that game-shifting score. His reply: “Everything.”
Westbrook didn’t want to bask in the praise afterward. He answered only a couple of questions and tried to spread the credit to Oklahoma’s offensive line and his fellow receivers.
“It was great just being out there with my brothers and being able to compete to the best of our abilities,” he said.
Westbrook didn’t stay long after the team’s news conference. He instead opted to follow Mayfield back to the locker room to celebrate becoming, at least for one day, the most popular Westbrook in Oklahoma.