Samaje Perine set to return for No. 9 Sooners

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine is expected to play Saturday against No. 25 Baylor after missing three games with a pulled muscle in his right leg.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made the announcement Monday. He said Perine will practice in a limited capacity early in the week for the ninth-ranked Sooners. He said the 5-foot-10, 235-pound bruiser is close to full health.

''He should be,'' Stoops said. ''He should be. We'll have to go out there and do it. I'm sure there's a level there, too, of, you want to be out there Saturday, let's not overdo it Monday and Tuesday if you're going to keep healing as you go through the week.''

Perine ran for 214 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Texas, and was among the Big 12's top rushers before being injured in the first quarter of the next game against Kansas State. He has rushed for 3,537 yards in his career, seventh-most in school history, and he still has an outside chance of catching Billy Sims for Oklahoma's career record by the end of the season.

Perine punishes opponents at this time of year when healthy. In his past six November games, he has rushed for 1,220 yards and 14 touchdowns with an average of 8.5 yards per carry.

Joe Mixon will be back Saturday for the Sooners, too. The Big 12's No. 2 rusher was suspended for last Thursday's win over Iowa State after having an altercation with a parking attendant.

With both Perine and Mixon out, fullback Dimitri Flowers took on a bigger role against Iowa State. He ran for 115 yards and had three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.

No one is happier to see Perine and Mixon back than Flowers, who had no career carries before logging 22 against Iowa State.

''It felt awful,'' Flowers said of how he felt the next day. ''It felt terrible. I love Joe and Samaje, and the respect I have for them now is through the roof after something like that.''

Stoops was pleased that Flowers, who caught a touchdown pass for the third straight game, was able to carry the load as a running back.

''I think Dimitri would be the first to tell you that he's not quite the same runner that those two guys (Mixon and Perine) are, but he did an awesome job, and it didn't surprise us,'' he said.

Things won't necessarily go back to normal for Mixon now that he's back. One of the nation's top all-purpose threats might have lost his job as a kickoff returner. Dede Westbrook returned two kickoffs for 97 yards against the Cyclones with a long of 63 yards, and he may have pried the job away from Mixon. He said special teams coach Jay Boulware will have a decision to make.

''I've got my hand up to keep Dede in there, but we'll see where that goes,'' Stoops said. ''Coach Boulware will look at it this week and see.''

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter (at)CliffBruntAP

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