Unlike the subpar Insight Bowl telecast Friday night, ESPN turned in a stellar performance in capturing OSU's 41-38 overtime victory in the Fiesta Bowl. Play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough and analyst Matt Millen were on target most of the night with their comments and there were no SkyCams falling from high above the field.
McDonough, who voted for Stanford's Andrew Luck for the Heisman Trophy, perhaps went overboard in expressing his fondness for the junior quarterback he felt clearly was the best player in the country.
“A lot of Andrew Luck's career doesn't seem fair,” McDonough said after Quinn Sharp's game-winning field goal, “I can't believe he didn't win a Heisman and it doesn't seem right that he leaves on a loss on a night when he throws for 347 yards and he had only four incomplete passes all night.”
Earlier in the game, McDonough noted that Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor had much quicker receivers than Luck. He failed to mention that Luck had a fumbled exchange near the Stanford goalline that set up an OSU field goal.
Millen noted that OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon had outstanding performances.
“Both of the quarterbacks lived up to all we thought they'd be,” he said. “Blackmon delivered exactly what we thought he'd do. Great players show up in big games.”
ESPN's best shot of the telecast was Stanford redshirt freshman kicker Jordan Williamson, who pulled two kicks, sitting on the bench with his head down as OSU drove for the winning score.
“You have to feel for him regardless of whichever team you're cheering for,” McDonough said.
Blackmon, the Fiesta Bowl MVP, was shut out in the first and third quarters, which Millen noted to start the fourth quarter. “You don't want to put him in the witness protection program. You got to get the ball to him ASAP and as often as you can.”
Sideline reporter Heather Cox reported in the first quarter that Blackmon was suffering from a thigh injury that had hindered him in practice, but it didn't seem to bother him in the game.
After his second touchdown catch, a 67-yard reception, helped OSU tie the game 14-14, Millen said, “He's hungry, you feed him. When you're a great receiver, it doesn't matter what kind of coverage you put on him.”
He got some help on his third touchdown, a 17-yard catch which helped tie the game 31-31, when the Stanford safety fell down in the end zone. McDonough said, “As the great Frank Broyles used to say to Keith Jackson, ‘Where is the safety man?' He slipped.”
Weedon had a rushing touchdown, just after McDonough noted that it was unlikely the Cowboys would run a quarterback draw. “Nice call, my friend,” Millen said. “He's not the most gifted runner but the most willing one on the team.”
ESPN then had a shot of Weeden's wife, Melanie, fanning herself from apparent nervousness.
McDonough noted that OSU's fast-tempo offense appeared to wear down the Stanford defense as Joseph Randle scored the game-tying touchdown with 2:35 left.
“The Stanford defense is tired and confused,” he said. “A lot of times the fatigue will mess with your mind.”
Millen had high praises for Mike Gundy in leading OSU to its first BCS bowl. “He projects a calm demeanor to his team. He never gets flustered, and it's a carryover which you see with his group.”