Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes have a high-scoring history.
Once nearly teammates (Mayfield hosted Mahomes' visit to Lubbock), they became Big12 rivals after Mayfield transferred to Oklahoma. They pushed each other's limits in a legendary score-a-thon back in 2016, Mayfield's first game in Lubbock as the enemy. The two quarterbacks combined for nearly 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Mayfield's Sooners bested Mahomes' Red Raiders, 66-59.
"That was my 'Welcome back to Lubbock' moment," Mayfield said Wednesday. "Weird things happen in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday nights.
Mayfield and Mahomes play each other as professionals for the first time Sunday. Oklahoma returns to Lubbock on Saturday for the first time since each quarterback left for the NFL. Nostalgia is creeping in for fans of Mayfield-Mahomes I; fans and reporters are drawing parallels.
But Mahomes' Chiefs are 7-1, losing only to the Patriots in Foxborough. Mahomes is an MVP candidate, the engine for the best offense in the NFL, the face of a Super Bowl contender. Whereas Mayfield is 2-4 since being inserted for Tyrod Taylor in Week 3. He's orchestrated three touchdown drives in one of his six starts (Mahomes averages 3.3 touchdown passes per game), and both his coach and offensive coordinator were relieved of their duties this week.
Mayfield out-dueled Mahomes in college, but the Browns haven't shown signs of being able to score like the Chiefs this year. Mayfield downplayed notions that he should be sitting out his rookie year or needs an upgraded supporting cast. To keep up with Mahomes, Mayfield believes he'll just have elevate his play.
"Well, I would absolutely not say that (the rivalry with Mahomes) is going to be Brady-Manning right now," Mayfield said. "If (Mahomes) keeps playing that way, then there is no reason why it would not be on his side of things. Now, I just have to pick up my side and play better."
But if Mayfield plays his best game of the season — or even the game of his life — on Sunday, it won't be related to the first time he beat Mahomes. For Mayfield, business overrules nostalgia.
"No," Mayfield said when asked if he would think about the 2016 matchup during Sunday's game. "I will be thinking about Sunday and playing the Chiefs."