ESPN2 analyst Ray Bentley was so impressed with Blake Bell's first start as an OU quarterback that he said he had locked up the job, although he mistakingly called him “the Bulldozer” instead of his trademark nickname, “the Belldozer.”
“Trevor Knight is out with a knee injury,” Bentley said. “I don't think he'll get back in.”
Bell's 27 of 37 passing for 413 yards and four touchdowns made a believer of Bentley, a former NFL linebacker, and play-by-play announcer Dave Lemming, a San Francisco Giants radio announcer. The pair called a solid game with few mistakes.
After noting Bell's power running ability, Bentley said, “With his arm is where he's been outstanding today. The accuracy of his throws has really been eye-opening.”
He also credited Bell's poise in the pocket. However, in the second half, he noted Bell threw the ball high a few times. “He needs to throw the ball on a line and lead his receiver,” he said after an end zone incompletion.
Among Bentley's other comments:
* After safety Gabe Lynn was initially ejected for targeting, the ruling was reduced to allow him to stay in the game. Bentley wasn't sure it was even a penalty: “It looked to me like the shoulder made initial contact … That's a great football play.”
When Lynn intercepted a pass: “I think that's justification for Gabe Lynn, getting to stay in the game.”
* After Jalen Saunders' 28-yard punt return: “You can see he's just going to jump out of his shoes. But you got to make a better move on the punter.”
* On Tulsa running back Trey Watts, son of former OU quarterback J.C. Watts: “He's as good a receiver as he is a running back. A guy like that has a chance to play at the next level.”
After Watts' 77-yard punt return: “Look at him break all those arm tackles. He won't go down with a single arm tackle.”
* After Tulsa had cut OU's lead to 37-20 in a “sloppy” second half, he credited running back Roy Finch for the sparking the Sooners with a 48-yard run. “I think Finch got his offensive line a little excited. They just busted open a huge hole for him.”
* On power running of OU freshman running back Keith Ford: “They list him at 5-11, 205. He's running like he's 255.”
The ESPN2 graphics people made a couple of mistakes, incorrectly noting that Knight had gotten the targeting penalty (Knight and Lynn share No. 9) and Ahmad Thomas had caught a 44-yard pass when it actually was Sterling Shepard.
Fox Sports Oklahoma's crew of Ron Thulin, Dave Lapham and Jim Knox worked hard to keep OSU's mismatch against Lamar interesting. At times, the commentary bordered on silliness.
When Knox reported from the Lamar sideline that the Cardinals defense was getting tired, Lapham suggested to Knox that he “put some pads on and blitz from the corner.” Knox then told Lapham, a former Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman, “They need some help. You need to come on down.”
In the third quarter, Knox joined the OSU student section in beating paddles on the side of the stands. “It's a cast of characters up here,” Knox said. “You got Batman, you got Helmet Man, you got everybody knocking down the wall here in Stillwater, Oklahoma.”
Thulin used a pro wrestling reference after OSU defensive end Sam Wren pounded Lamar quarterback Caleb Berry to the turf late in the second quarter. “Sam Wren does a little Bruno Sammartino on him.”
The trio still had plenty of serious comments in describing OSU's total domination of the visitors. “Let's face it,” Lapham said. “Oklahoma State's Xs and Os are bigger, faster and stronger than Lamar's.”
Midway through the third quarter the broadcasters made OSU receiver Josh Stewart the player of the game for his 176 all-purpose yards at the time, including a 67-yard punt return TD. “He took the punt return to the house,” Lapham said. “Those unscripted, unconventional scores are enormous.”
“When he came out of high school, Denton (Texas) Guyer, they said he was too small to be an impact player,” Thulin said earlier. “I'd say they were wrong.”
Lapham raved about receiver Blake Jackson's one-handed 2-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, which they made the play of the game. “That's an athlete right there. He must have Velcro on his gloves.”
OSU wrestling coach John Smith also visited the booth to discuss wrestling's return to the Olympics for the 2020 Games. Lapham said he was honored to talk with a “living legend.”
There was no reference to the controversial Sports Illustrated five-part series on the OSU football program. Considering OSU owned the TV rights to the broadcast, that was not all that surprising.
* On ESPN's “College GameDay,” analyst Kirk Herbstreit and guest picker Lyle Lovett from Klein, Texas, picked Texas A&M over Alabama. Lee Corso was the only one to correctly predict Alabama would win.
* On Notre Dame's go-ahead touchdown in its 31-24 victory against Purdue on ABC, Davaris Daniels tight-roped down the sideline on an 82-yard touchdown pass. “That's a heck of a run down the line,” Brent Musburger said. “That's just a big-time run after the catch.”