Cyclones face task of slowing Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield had little room for improvement after his junior season, yet he has continued to blossom.

Mayfield set an NCAA record for passing efficiency in a season on his way to being a Heisman Trophy finalist, and his numbers are much better this season. His efficiency has helped the Sooners win an FBS-best 14 straight games. Mayfield looks to keep the momentum going Saturday when the third-ranked Sooners host Iowa State.

“He’s settled in,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said. “He’s playing well. He’s in sync with our guys. We’ve made a lot of plays around him. We haven’t put balls on the ground. We’re protecting well. Guys have made some competitive plays in the receiving game. That’s a big part of it, too.”

Riley said Mayfield has done a good job of reining in his natural urge to take risks. That has helped the Sooners move up to No. 1 nationally in total offense.

Iowa State also has seen improved quarterback play. Jacob Park has completed 62 percent of his passes and has nine touchdown passes with five interceptions.

However, several reports indicated that the transfer quarterback did not travel with the team to Norman. Redshirt freshman Zeb Noland may be next in line for snaps.

Here are some things to watch Saturday.

Sooners can run, too

Oklahoma’s Abdul Adams and Trey Sermon have emerged as threats. They combined for 312 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a win over Baylor two weeks ago. Mayfield said the diverse group of backs make Oklahoma difficult to defend.

“I think it’s great for us, having a little mix-up here and there,” he said. “I think we have the explosive guys, and we also have the power runners as well, so we kind of have it all in that room right now.”

Linebacker Lanning

Iowa State middle linebacker Joel Lanning, a converted quarterback, had 20 tackles against Texas last week and ranks second in the Big 12 with 11.5 tackles per game.

“So much credit for that goes to Joel, and his ability to adapt to those fits and play at the level that he’s playing,” Campbell said. “Joel is really talented.”

Romar questionable

Riley said senior defensive tackle Matt Romar will be a game-time decision. He sat out against Baylor with an undisclosed injury. The senior has one tackle this season, but he is a critical part of Oklahoma’s run defense. There is a noticeable difference when he is out of the lineup.

Flowers effect

Last season against Iowa State, fullback Dimitri Flowers switched to running back and gained 115 yards on 22 carries and caught three passes for 34 yards and a touchdown to help the Sooners beat the Cyclones 34-24. Riley, Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator at the time, said he knew Flowers could run because he had done it well in practice. Still, he had never carried in a game before that night.

History

The Sooners have won 18 straight against the Cyclones and haven’t lost to them since 1990.

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