NORMAN, Okla. — It’s just mid-September, and most of Oklahoma’s lofty preseason goals already are out of reach.
The Sooners hoped to return to the College Football Playoff this season, but Saturday night’s 45-24 loss to Ohio State dropped them to 1-2 on the season and to No. 25 in the AP Top 25 poll released Sunday .
Mayfield finished fourth in the Heisman voting last year, but his chances of finishing better are all but gone after Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett outplayed him. Mayfield threw two interceptions against the Buckeyes and had a third overturned upon review. He was sacked three times and pressured all night.
Oklahoma has a bye week before opening conference play at TCU on Oct. 1.
“Right now, it’s all about winning the Big 12,” Mayfield said. “Then we’ll see where it goes. But it’s one week at a time. You have to grind out the Big 12. Just like last year, we had to play one week at a time to get where we want to go. That’s the same mindset we have to have.”
The Buckeyes overpowered the Sooners to pound out 291 yards on 48 carries. Oklahoma’s coaching staff was disappointed and said changes will be considered.
“We have to be able to maybe get some other kids some opportunities too,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “They have to earn the right, just like everybody. I think our guys, there’s not one individual that sticks out to me. We just have to continually develop more depth, size and strength at critical positions.”
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said the leadership has fallen off since players such as center Ty Darlington, receiver Sterling Shepard and linebacker Eric Striker left after last season.
“It’s fair to say the leadership isn’t close to what it was a year ago, and that’s on me,” Bob Stoops said. “I’m in the front of the program. I’ve got to do a better job, and I’ve got to a better job developing players to do that.”
Mayfield, a team captain, said he needs to be a part of the solution.
“When you lose a lot of guys that have played a lot of football here, you just flat-out lose leadership,” Mayfield said. “You can name all the starters that we’ve had for multiple years … you are going to lose leadership. Right now, it’s time to man up. A lot of people need to pick up leadership — me included. You just have to push forward.”
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter @CliffBruntAP .