Posted on December 30, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Oklahoma Sooners and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield picked an inopportune time to get sick. Less than 48 hours before Oklahoma faces the Georgia Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl, Mayfield is battling “flu-like symptoms.” Fortunately for the Sooners, Mayfield was healthy enough to partake in Saturday’s media session. He also says there’s no way his illness will keep him from playing in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff Monday afternoon in Pasadena.
Mayfield says he began to feel ill when he went home to spend Christmas with his family. He says his hotel room is currently filled with various medicines and several boxes of tea.
“There was something going around,” Mayfield told reporters Saturday. “A couple other guys on the team have had it. It’s flu-like. I wouldn’t say it’s the flu, but it’s pretty much like that.”
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The illness has kept Mayfield from participating in this week’s bowl festivities, including a trip to Disneyland. In fact, he initially stayed behind during Saturday’s media session. But after seeing his teammates on television answering questions, specifically questions about him, Mayfield tracked down a ride and made an appearance.
“My teammates don’t need to answer questions on my behalf,” said Mayfield, his voice making it obvious that he’s been under the weather. “This whole thing is not about me. Oklahoma is here to play a playoff game. We are here to win a game, and that is what it needs to be about.”
Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was hoping Mayfield would be healthy enough to make an appearance for the media on Saturday. Riley knew without Mayfield, reporters would flock to backup quarterback Kyler Murray, which is exactly what happened. Murray gave reporters standard answers about being ready just in case he needs to step in for Mayfield in the most important game of the season. But eventually the Heisman winner showed up, much to Riley’s delight.
“I wasn’t surprised,” said Riley. “I told him that if he felt well enough to do it, he should come do it. He got it out of the way, and everyone got to see he’s alive and able to walk and the world isn’t coming to an end.”
Despite missing some bowl functions, Mayfield has been present at team practices all week, even if Riley says his energy level is not quite 100%. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that Mayfield will play on Monday.
“Yesterday was the best I’ve felt all week,” the Heisman winner said Saturday. “But you know, taking a toll on me at practice means the next day I’m going to feel it. Yeah, I’ll be all right.”
Only time will tell if his illness will have any impact on his performance against Georgia. One thing for sure is that the Bulldogs aren’t going to overlook the Oklahoma offense just because Mayfield has been a little under the weather.
“I mean, we’ve got guys sick, too,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said Saturday. “It’s just not as big a deal because they didn’t win the Heisman. To be honest with you, I didn’t even really know what was going on other than the last two days everybody has made a big deal about it. It hasn’t been a big deal for us.”
Oklahoma will meet Georgia in the Rose Bowl Monday at 5:00 EST in the first of two national semifinals. Clemson and Alabama will meet later that night in the Sugar Bowl. The two winners will meet the following Monday for the right to be named national champion.