ARLINGTON, Texas -- Save for a brief few moments in the second quarter, Oklahoma had no time for drama in the Big 12 championship game's return to existence.
There was no screaming and pushing at midfield during warm-ups, no snubbed handshakes at the coin toss. None of Baker Mayfield's pregame throws found their way to a TCU player's head, and the only thing he grabbed during the game was a 25-pound bronze trophy permanently performing a stiff-arm.
After beating No. 11 TCU 41-17, No. 3 Oklahoma is a virtual lock to be playoff-bound and, for the third consecutive season and 11th time since 2000, is the Big 12's champion. The Sooners have as many titles in the past three seasons as every other Big 12 program has in the history of the league, which began play back in 1996. The Heisman Trophy will almost certainly belong to Mayfield next Saturday, too.
When the day was done, all that was left was one team looking far better than the other.
On TCU's first offensive snap of the game, Oklahoma scored a touchdown. On the Sooners' first offensive snap of the second half, they scored a touchdown. The Sooners spent the game's other 136 snaps flexing, locking up a playoff bid and proving they have as good a chance as anyone to win the whole thing.
"The reason I came back was to play for a national title," Mayfield said. "The most exciting thing about today was we controlled our own destiny. We just had to take care of business and all that is out in front of us."
Whether or not an eighth national title arrives in Oklahoma this year, a sixth Heisman Trophy is on its way. Mayfield will be in New York a week from Saturday to collect it. The Sooners can already be sizing up his larger than life statue outside their stadium in Heisman Park, where the program's other five winners are immortalized.
"There's not many people like him. He's the best teammate you could imagine," Sooners tight end Mark Andrews said.
Mayfield attempted only 23 passes, throwing four touchdowns and breaking a 54-yard run to all but seal an award that's been long decided thanks to his play over the season's first 12 games.
"Baker and I are very much alike," said TCU coach Gary Patterson, who's been involved in a few public spats with Mayfield over his lengthy career. "He could probably be a linebacker because he plays quarterback like a defensive guy. He's going to challenge you and do the things he needs to do."
Mayfield also passed another Sooner Heisman winner, Sam Bradford, in career passing efficiency.
"He's one of those players where if he's not on your team, you're going to hate him," Andrews said. "But if he's on your team, he's the best person ever."
Mayfield didn't do anything Saturday to further enrage those around college football who'd wish him ill, but he spent the postgame celebration waving a crimson Big 12 champions shirt around and further rousing an Oklahoma crowd at AT&T Stadium celebrating a second trip to the playoff in three years.
"We're gonna enjoy this one here tonight, and then we've got bigger things to come," Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said during the confetti-showered trophy celebration on the field.
Oklahoma raced to a 17-0 lead, in part to a Kyle Hicks fumble on TCU's first offensive play. Sooners linebacker Caleb Kelly scooped it up, presumably thanked Hicks for the early Christmas present and raced 18 yards to put Oklahoma up 10-0 just nine seconds after it went up 3-0.
TCU cut the lead to seven at halftime but opened the second half with three incomplete passes. A play later, it gave up a 55-yard touchdown to receiver Mykel Jones, who slipped by a linebacker in man coverage, caught the ball and raced to the end zone, scoring easily. The Horned Frogs got into Oklahoma territory on their next drive, but Kenny Hill's scramble on fourth-and-one came up short and Oklahoma needed only two plays before Mayfield found Marquise Brown deep down the right sideline for a 52-yard score.
"The worst thing that could happen in the third quarter happened," Patterson said. "We didn't keep the football. We didn't go down to score and they got two big plays and the game was over."
Even on his second chance, the Horned Frogs' defensive guru couldn't slow down the Sooners, after a 38-20 loss a few weeks ago. And there's no "figuring out" Oklahoma's offense, anyway. Even if the coverage and call is perfect, Mayfield is talented enough to extend a play and fire a rocket downfield to a streaking receiver.
Oklahoma had plenty of questions at the beginning of the season. Could Mayfield still flourish without two NFL Draft picks at running back and a Biletnikoff Award winner at receiver? Could 34-year-old Lincoln Riley replace a living legend in Bob Stoops, who retired in early June?
Mayfield is the Heisman winner. Oklahoma is a Big 12 champion that was more explosive and efficient in nearly every offensive metric than last year. And Riley, a rookie head coach, guided the Sooners to the playoff and got a big hug from a smiling Stoops on the field in the postgame celebration on the field.
"Things are a little bit different at Oklahoma," Riley said. "How many other places does the head coach that just retired is still around and still so involved and it's just so smooth? It's a different place. We're built different and that's a big reason why you see the consistent success."
The only question left for the Sooners: Rose or Sugar?