Everything suggested it would be a wonky night for Oklahoma in the rare mid-week game in Ames, Iowa, against Iowa State.
The Cyclones have a history of playing well against top opponents on Thursdays and Fridays. OU was already playing without running back Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon was suspended Tuesday evening.
The seeds were planted, but Dimitri Flowers didn’t care. Baker Mayfield did the job in the first half and Flowers did the rest en route to a 34-24 win against the Cyclones on Thursday evening.
No. 14 OU has won six consecutive games and remains the lone undefeated team in the conference and highest-ranked Big 12 member in the college football playoff poll.
Flowers entered the game without a single carry as a running back in his three-year career. He closed the night with 22 carries for 115 yards and added three receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown.
“I don't believe I've ever seen a guy do all of that and do it so well,” head coach Bob Stoops said.
Flowers had 99 yards of offense this season but eclipsed that total with his outing, combining for a career-high 149 yards against the Cyclones.
Nobody was quite sure what the plan of attack was going to be with the Sooners following the last-minute suspension of Mixon.
You knew Mayfield was going to have to come up big, and you knew the running game was going to feature some form of freshman Abdul Adams and Flowers.
Adams did his damage in the first half with eight carries for 54 yards, but when OU looked to put the game away, it was Flower Power.
The Sooners offense was rolling throughout the first half as the Mayfield-to-Dede Westbrook connection was on full display once again.
Westbrook finished with seven catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, while Mayfield completed 25 of 34 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. All four touchdown passes occurred in the first half and went to four receivers (Westbrook, Flowers, Jeffery Mead, Mark Andrews).
Head coach Bob Stoops tried to prepare everybody for the emergence of Flowers. Following the pulled muscle injury to Samaje Perine, Stoops said Flowers would be working more in the backfield.
It felt like a pure emergency situation, and maybe you could classify Thursday as just that. Following Flowers’ initial carry, he came off the field and looked like it was going to be a battle for himself to stay healthy.
He powered through it with each and every carry and iced the game in the fourth quarter with first down runs to make sure there would be no shenanigans in Ames on Thursday.
The goal is for Perine, who missed his third straight game, to return when OU hosts Baylor next weekend. And Mixon should return from the one-game suspension. But you had to get through this one first.
Flowers made sure the Sooners did just that.
Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley has praised Flowers repeatedly throughout the season for his ability and versatility as a runner, blocker, receiver and game intelligence.
Every catch Flowers has this season, including the three he accumulated Thursday, have been for either a first down or touchdown for the Sooners.
With his performance on the ground, OU coaches know now it’s another area they can trust him in when the game is on the line.