By Wade Haugen
Matt Campbell’s Iowa State Cyclones gave a valiant effort Thursday night to no avail as the Oklahoma Sooners defeated them 34-24. While on the surface the score doesn’t indicate a very impressive win, any win in Ames on a weeknight is a good one.
Coming into the game, all the talk was about Abdul Adams, and how he would do filling in for Joe Mixon. Mixon was suspended earlier in the week for ripping up a parking ticket in front of a parking attendant, which left the Sooners with only 1 scholarship running back for Thursday night.
However, an unlikely hero emerged for the offense in the form of Dimitri Flowers. Flowers, a junior from San Antonio, Texas, didn’t have an official carry coming into the game. By the end of the night, Flowers had gained 115 yards on 22 carries. The multi-dimensional fullback also had 3 catches for 34 yards, including a touchdown catch right before the half that gave the Sooners great momentum going into the locker room.
While Flowers helped stabilize the rushing attack, Baker Mayfield was exceptional as always, slinging the ball around with ease. Mayfield finished the night with 328 yards through the air with 4 touchdowns. The Mayfield-Westbrook duo continued to dominate as Dede Westbrook finished the night with 7 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown. Overall, the air attack was very spread out, with 4 different Sooners catching touchdown passes.
Take away a few very costly breakdowns, and Thursday night would’ve been a great night for the Sooner defense. The 4th and 2 that Joel Lanning took to the house for a touchdown was unacceptable. The Sooners got caught in a stunt, and paired with a Jordan Evans missed tackle, Lanning saw lots of green grass on his way to the end zone. Towards the end of the first half, Jordan Parker and Steven Parker had a costly miscommunication, resulting in a long touchdown pass to Allen Lazard.
The miscommunications in the secondary can’t be happening at this point in the season, especially with explosive offenses such as Baylor, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State lying ahead.
Overall, the Sooners defense held it together well though on Thursday night and only yielded 290 yards, 72 of which came from the two breakdowns I mentioned. With the way this unit has fared in past weeks, any step in the right direction is a positive one, especially with the Baylor Bears spread attack coming to Norman next week.