ABC/ESPN announcer Sean McDonough has called many games in his long broadcasting career. But Saturday in Stillwater was his first helping of Bedlam, and he clearly was impressed.
“Now you know why they call it Bedlam,” McDonough said on OU's game-winning drive. “That's what it's turned into, especially in the final moments.”
McDonough's strong play-by-play calls helped overcome an uneven performance by the ABC telecast that also included analyst Chris Spielman and sideline reporter Shannon Spake.
McDonough's call on Blake Bell's game-winning pass to Jalen Saunders with 19 seconds left: “He throws to the far corner of the end zone. Saunders again! Touchdown!”
Spielman, a former Ohio State and NFL linebacker, credited Bell for his steady play on OU's final drive. “Perfectly thrown, well-executed,” he said of the 7-yard TD pass. “Blake Bell leads his team down the field for the game-winning drive, execution under pressure.”
On OSU cornerback Justin Gilbert's near interception that was ruled an incompletion, the announcers credited OU for getting the next play off before it could be reviewed.
“Oklahoma snapped the ball so fast even if (replay official) David Adams wanted to stop it in the replay booth, he didn't do it quickly enough,” said McDonough, who added “in my opinion, it was a good call.” Spielman called it a “bang-bang play.”
Before OSU had taken a 24-20 lead on an 89-yard drive, the announcers noted that OSU's high-powered passing attack was struggling.
Quarterback Clint Chelf's misfires were noted. “Chelf is a rhythm passer,” Spielman said, “and he hasn't been in rhythm all game.”
“For the Cowboy offense, it's been a case of no Moore,” McDonough said. “No catches by Tracy Moore or Charlie Moore, two of their best receivers.”
After they both had catches on the drive culminating with Desmond Roland's 1-yard run, he noted OSU “had gotten them out of the witness protection program.”
OU's fake field goal for a game-tying touchdown pass from holder Grant Bothun to kicker Michael Hunnicutt also produced strong reactions by the announcers.
“Take a bow, Coach Stoops,” Spielman said. “I love the call.”
“You're truly trusting your kicker … That's not any easy throw to make if you're a holder and you're throwing it on the run.”
After Hunnicutt kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, Spielman joked that “he's turning into a diva wide receiver already.”
In contrast to most ABC nationally televised games, the telecast had several mistakes. The biggest came to start the second half when Spake referred to OU quarterback Kendal Thompson as Kendal Thomas, and producers showed the back of OU quarterback Cody Thomas (No. 14). It was the first OU or OSU game the crew had called. McDonough called OU's double reverse in the third quarter a single reverse, which Spielman corrected.
In the production truck, the graphics people also had lots of problems. On Saunders' 64-yard punt return touchdown, the graphic credited the score to OSU's Daytawion Lowe, who also wears No. 8. In another graphic, West Virginia was misspelled “West Virginnia.” The final score of the game was incorrectly listed as 32-24 at the end of the telecast.
*Spielman on OU running back Brennan Clay: “I can't tell you how impressed I am with Clay, just the toughness he brings. Not very big … he runs like he's 220.”
*On the postgame show, ABC studio analyst Jesse Palmer called it a $6 million loss for OSU in falling out of the Fiesta Bowl. “Oklahoma made the plays they had to make at critical junctions.”