The Oklahoma game was the mind-blower when it comes to Patrick Mahomes’ career at Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders rolled up 59 points against the eventual Big 12 champion Sooners, with Mahomes passing for an NCAA record-tying 734 yards. He also had five touchdown passes and one interception.
Defense was the problem that night for Tech in a 66-59 loss in Lubbock.
But Mahomes, who also rushed for two touchdowns, started entering the Heisman Trophy discussion despite Tech’s losing record at the time.
Now he enters the NFL as the Chiefs’ first-round draft selection, No. 10 overall. The Chiefs, originally picking No. 27, surrendered their first-round pick in 2018 plus a third-round pick this season to switch places in the draft with the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs’ first quarterback selected in the first round since Todd Blackledge in 1983 becomes Alex Smith’s understudy.
The Oklahoma shootout was Mahomes’ biggest statistical game, but far from his only numbers splash.
Mahomes passed for more than 500 yards three more times as a junior. His highest-rated game was his last one. In a 54-35 victory over Baylor in Arlington, Texas, Mahomes went 30 for 46 for 586 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
For the season, Mahomes passed for 5,052 yards with 41 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 65.7 percent of his passes.
Texas Tech is the college football’s modern and longest-running no-huddle spread team. Mike Leach brought in the philosophy when he became coach in 2000 and his original gunslinger, Kliff Kingsbury, just finished his fifth season as the Red Raiders coach.
Quarterbacks from those attacks haven’t had much success in the NFL. Mahomes looks to change that as he enters the tutelage of Andy Reid.
“I’m going to be diving into the playbook, learning as much as I can as fast as I can, and after that working mechanically and try to become better every single day,” Mahomes said.
Mahomes was a quick learner at Tech. He entered his freshman season in 2014 as the backup to Davis Webb, who was injured late in the season. Mahomes became the starter and set a Big 12 freshman record with 598 yards and six touchdowns against Baylor.
Mahomes beat out Webb as the starter for 2015 and Webb transferred to California.
Mahomes, the son of former major-league pitcher Pat Mahomes, played on the Tech baseball team as a relief pitcher after his freshman year. That was his final season playing college baseball.
He became Tech’s starting quarterback as a sophomore and passed for 4,653 yards with 36 touchdowns and 15 picks.
Mahomes passed up a trip to the draft in Philadelphia and watched with his family at their home in Tyler, Texas. Also at the watch party were Kingsbury and some Tech coaches, high school coaches, former teammates and agent Leigh Steinberg. The family sat on a couch before three big-screen televisions.
The first quarterback in the draft, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, went second to the Chicago Bears in a stunning move. The Bears switched places with the 49ers, from third to second.
At that point, it was natural to wonder if quarterbacks would fly off the board. Some of the next few teams selecting, like the Jets at No. 6, had need for a quarterback.
A buzz in the Mahomes house: He could be taken No. 13 by the Arizona Cardinals. If that was true, the Chiefs had to make the trade with Buffalo to get the Bills’ No. 10 spot.
“You never know on draft day, but I was extremely happy when that happened,” Mahomes said. “It was sheer excitement.”