Analyst Todd Blackledge, a former Penn State and NFL quarterback, will call his first Bedlam football game at 7 p.m. Saturday on ABC, working with play-by-play announcer Brad Nessler and sideline reporter Holly Rowe.
Blackledge and his crew learned Saturday night that they would be broadcasting the game instead of the ACC final in Charlotte, N.C., which will air at 7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN. ABC shifted its No. 1 team of Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and Heather Cox to that game, apparently because Bedlam lacks BCS championship significance. Bedlam, which is for the Big 12 championship, does have higher ranked BCS teams in No. 3 OSU and No. 10 OU than the ACC final with No. 5 Virginia Tech and No. 20 Clemson.
Blackledge, 50, a North Canton, Ohio, resident, is known for his “Taste of the Town” segments in visiting popular restaurants near game sites, but he said he has wrapped up the segments for the year and has no plans for a piece on a Stillwater restaurant.
In a telephone interview this week, Blacklege discussed the Bedlam teams:
Will OSU end its eight-game Bedlam losing streak aided by home-field advantage and several OU players nursing injuries?
On the surface, it appears that way. They are playing at home. Even though they haven't won in the last several years, the games at Stillwater have been the ones they have had the best opportunity to win. So everything is kind of pointing toward that, but they still have to go out and do it. Even though a lot of these players weren't there for eight in a row, maybe only a couple in a row, there still has to be in the back of their minds ‘Can we beat these guys?' They have to overcome that. I think they have a great chance to do it, but it won't come easy.
Do OU quarterback Landry Jones and OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden have the talent to play in the NFL?
I think both of them have the ability, the arm to make the throws necessary to play at the next level, and the intelligence. Part of it is their knowledge of the offensive system they are running and their ability to read and recognize coverages, but the ball gets out of their hands quickly. That's the biggest reason why neither one of those guys gets sacked a whole lot of times.
What advice would you give Jones in deciding whether to come back for his senior season or turn pro?
That's a personal decision. When I was in that situation, because I could have gone back for another year even though I was graduating with my class, we had won a national championship (Penn State beat Georgia 27-23 in 1982 final). My biggest thing at that point was if I thought I was going to be a first-round draft pick that it made sense to go. And I think the same would be true today.
Are you surprised these teams fell victim to three upsets en route to this game?
A little bit. I did the Texas Tech-Oklahoma game and that one was a real head- scratcher for me. ... The (Seth) Doege kid (Texas Tech quarterback) had a great game, but I was still surprised that they were able to do that. Obviously, that has not been a one-time occurrence. Their defense has had some problems. They have given big plays and a lot of yards to a couple teams within the league. As far as the Oklahoma State loss, those kind of games happen. It's really, really hard to go undefeated, especially when you're the high-ranked team coming into a place like that. That's a season-maker. They let Iowa State hang around and pretty soon they were in a real fight.