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OU Football: Sooners Face Iowa State In Rare Thursday Night Game

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Playing in their first Thursday night game since 2013, the Oklahoma Sooners (6-2, 5-0) will travel to Ames to take on Iowa State (1-7, 0-5) at 6:30 p.m.

Related: Bob Stoops Previews Sooners' Thursday Night Matchup At Iowa State

OU has won 12 straight conference games entering this game while head coach Bob Stoops looks to remain undefeated against the Cyclones in his career (12-0).  

“They’re much better than their record indicates,” Stoops said of Iowa State. “I’m sitting here looking at their last four games, they lose by five points I believe to Kansas State, they lose by seven points to Oklahoma State, they lose by three points to Baylor. All three teams with winning records here in our conference, all tight games, one possession games and a team that plays hard, plays well, got good schemes and good players.

“So we have to be our best here on a short week, take advantage of the practice time we do have and go up there and be in a position to play our best game.”

Here’s what you need to know about Thursday night’s Big 12 clash:

Sooners will be without many key guys

Running back Samaje Perine has been sidelined the last couple of weeks due to a pull he suffered in the Kansas State game, but Joe Mixon has filled in nicely while getting more carries in Perine’s absence. Unfortunately for OU, the Sooners won’t have either guy on suited up on Thursday night. Perine is still unable to return, while Mixon is suspended for the game due to violating team rules.

That leaves the Sooners with true freshman Abdul Adams as the starting running back against the Cyclones, while we could see fullback Dimitri Flowers line up in the backfield as well.

Along with issues at running back, the Sooners will be thin on the defensive front yet again. Charles Walker, Marquise Overton, Matt Romar and Matt Dimon are out with injuries while Amani Bledsoe is suspended for a year for using performance enhancing drugs.

“I’ve never been in a year with this many injuries and different moving parts,” Stoops said. “We’re in to two or three deep and guys are stepping up and playing hard, playing well, doing what we ask them to do and playing with some good discipline in the way they’re playing and making plays. We’re getting awful thin though, it’s been concerning but guys continue to respond.”

Scouting the Cyclones

The Cyclones’ offense enters this game averaging 392.8 yards and 24 points per game, while ranking 47th nationally in passing yards with a 252.4 average.

Iowa State rotates two quarterbacks, junior Joel Lanning and sophomore Jacob Park, but it was Park who shined brightest last week in the narrow loss to Kansas State. Both guys complete over 55 percent of their pass attempts while Lanning has the touchdown advantage with nine compared to Park’s three.

Despite having more success through the air this season, Iowa State’s most electrifying player is sophomore running back Mike Warren. The Lawton native was named a freshman All-American after a promising season last year, and has 530 rushing yards on 124 attempts this season.

Iowa State’s defense gives up 32.4 points per game and allow opposing offenses to average 453 yards against them. Sophomore linebacker Willie Harvey leads the Cyclones with 48 tackles while senior defensive end Jhaustin Thomas has a team-high three sacks.

Will the Mayfield to Westbrook connection continue?

Without their two starting running backs, look for the Baker Mayfield to Dede Westbrook connection to continue against Iowa State. The two have hooked up 40 times over the last five games for 881 yards and a whopping 11 touchdowns.

Westbrook is one of the fastest players in the entire nation, and Mayfield has been using that to his advantage as the gunslinger has been exploiting Big 12 defenses by throwing it up and letting his speedy receiver get under it.

Mayfield leads the league with 20 passing touchdowns while he’s been making plays with his legs as well. Mayfield is the only OU player to ever register at least 5,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards in their career.

Thursday night game = potential trap game

Last time the Sooners played on a Thursday, it wasn’t a game OU fans want to remember. Oklahoma went to Baylor in 2013 and got whooped 41-12 coming off a bye week as Bryce Petty and Shock Linwood did whatever they wanted against OU’s defense.

While Iowa State doesn’t have the firepower the Bears have, the Cylones do have a 21-11 record in Thursday night games while they’re 10-3 in their last 13.

With the Sooners playing without a lot of key pieces and Iowa State thirsting for a signature win under first-year head coach Matt Campbell, look for the Cyclones to come out firing on all cylinders to try and give OU only its third loss in Ames.  

Oklahoma will need to be dialed in and make sure they’re not looking ahead to next weekend’s showdown with Baylor.

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