ABC sportscasters Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge marveled at the “statement” Oklahoma State made in its 44-10 Bedlam victory Saturday night, but it wasn't enough to change Blackledge's mind that LSU and Alabama deserved to play in the BCS final.
Blackledge, a former Penn State and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, however, said he personally would enjoy seeing OSU get a shot against either of the SEC powers. “I as a fan would love to see this offensive football team go against either one of these defenses and see the Big 12 and the SEC in that type of a matchup.”
In a reversal from earlier in the week, OSU coach Mike Gundy told sideline reporter Holly Rowe after the game that the Cowboys unquestionably were the nation's No. 2 team and deserved a shot in the BCS final.
“I think people have to decide whether they want to see a 9-6 game or a 39-36 game,” he said. “I think this is the opportunity for people to find out how good the defense is in the SEC, and we would love to have that challenge.”
ABC showed numerous signs in the stands voicing that opinion, including “Alabama Behind Cowboys” and “We Want LSU!”
Nessler and Blackledge said they both were caught off guard by the lopsided game. They were late replacements for ABC's No. 1 team of Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit, which the network switched the ACC championship — also a rout (Clemson 38, Virginia Tech 10).
“I thought that there would be a lot of points,” said Blackledge, who was covering his first Bedlam game, “but I thought it would be on both sides of the ledger.”
In the third quarter, Blackledge called the OSU defense the biggest surprise of the game and said the Cowboys benefited from the two-week layoff after their upset loss to Iowa State. “They are a fresher-looking team defensively,” he said. “Offensively, their running game has gotten a lot better than it has the last couple of weeks.”
Blackledge noted the protection the OSU offensive line provided quarterback Brandon Weeden.
“Just no pressure at all,” he said. “He's too good a quarterback to allow him throw in rhythm. You've got to make him move his feet.”
Nessler added, “He doesn't even have a wrinkle in his jersey, let alone a grass stain.” A grass stain would be hard to get on OSU's artificial turf.
Even with that slip, Nessler proved to be a more than adequate replacement for Musburger and had several clever lines. As OSU fans stormed the field, he said, “And Bedlam is about to become mayhem.”
In discussing OU quarterback Landry Jones' second fumble, which produced another OSU touchdown to start the second half, Blackledge noted the weather was getting colder, making it harder to hold onto the ball.
At halftime, studio analyst John Saunders borrowed an old line in taking a shot at the OU defense. “I think if you asked Bob Stoops about the execution of his defense,” he said, “he'd be in favor of it.”
The ABC crew gave high marks to the recent renovations of Boone Pickens Stadium. “The fine detail, the lighting and the care that went into it, it's spectacular,” Blackledge said.
Split decision for ‘GameDay'
The ESPN “College GameDay” crew was split on their Bedlam predictions, with Lee Corso and Herbstreit picking the Sooners and Desmond Howard and Chris Fowler taking the Cowboys. Late OU linebacker Austin Box was remembered during an emotional segment that included interviews with Box's family.