Perkins' suspension status unchanged, brought to Ames for 'moral support'

Oklahoma defensive end Ronnie Perkins (7) gestures to the crowd in front of Army offensive lineman Austin Schuffert (74) during an NCAA college football game between Army and Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. 

NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma defensive end Ronnie Perkins was a notable addition to the Sooners' sideline against Iowa State in Ames on Saturday.

Perkins was wearing a hoodie and sweatpants in pregame warmups and never entered the Sooners' Big 12 contest against the Cyclones. Both and The Athletic reported he would be available, however, for OU's game against Texas on Saturday, Oct. 10.

Asked of the status of Perkins' ongoing suspension, OU head coach Lincoln Riley said it hasn't changed and the defensive end traveled with the team to Ames to provide off-field leadership.

"He was there for moral support," Riley said. "Ronnie is an important leader for us. Just his presence there was really positive and I thought he contributed to an excited sideline. Just was really good for some of our young guys there in key positions. His status for Saturday has not changed."

Perkins hasn't appeared in any games so far this season, because he reportedly failed a drug test last winter ahead of OU's Peach Bowl trip. Receiver Trejan Bridges and running back Rhamondre Stevenson were also reportedly suspended for the same reason and have not been available through OU's first three games.

When any of the suspended players will return is still unclear, according to Riley.

"It could change in five minutes, it could change maybe in three more weeks," he said. "I wish I had more answers, but sadly I do not."

OU meets Texas at 11 a.m. Saturday. The game, hosted at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, will air on FOX.

• Riley unfazed by Big 12’s perception: The Big 12's premier rivals — OU and Texas — head into their annual Dallas showdown with minimal buzz following disappointing losses on Saturday.

The Sooners fell for a second consecutive week, dropping a game to Iowa State, while Texas lost at home to TCU.

It isn't a great look for the league, which is already harshly criticized compared to its Power 5 counterparts. However, the league's perception doesn't seem to faze Riley, especially not during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I don’t know that I’ve paid honestly a whole lot of attention to it," Riley said during Monday's coaches teleconference. "... This year will go on and I think there’s gonna be a ton of surprises throughout this year. I think that’s the nature of this.

"I think it’s gonna be the most unpredictable college football year of all time. I think you’ve just gotta hang in there and keep swinging. Who the hell knows what’s gonna happen?"

The Sooners and Longhorns' shocking losses are two of a growing list of major upsets so far.

Tulsa beat No. 11 Central Florida on Saturday. Arkansas topped No. 16 Mississippi State after the Bulldogs stunned No. 6 LSU on Sept. 26. Louisiana-Lafayette also dominated No. 23 Iowa State on Sept. 12.

• COVID-19 update: OU released COVID-19 testing data for the week of Sept. 27 through Oct. 3.

OU said it tested 584 players and 219 staff members across all sports over the last week. Only one person tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release.

The athletics department reports only two active cases among players at the school and zero among staff.

So far, 163 players and 10 staff members across OU’s athletics programs have recovered from COVID-19.

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Buettner is sports editor for The Norman Transcript, a CNHI LLC publication. 

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