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TV Take: Cross-country viewing no easy task with Pac-12 Networks

UPDATED: Sat., Oct. 6, 2018

It’s no secret the Pac-12 Networks don’t have the reach of some college football conference’s broadcasting arm. The biggest hole? There is no DirecTV connection and hasn’t been since the network began in 2012.

That may not be a problem at home, but when a viewer is on the road, it can make it tough to find a place to watch a conference game the network is broadcasting. Many sports bars rely on DirecTV for their main out-of-market provider.

But there is more than one way to watch. Saturday night, some 2,591 miles from Pullman in our nation’s capital, we accessed Washington State’s 56-37 victory at Oregon State via the web. And it actually worked pretty well.

What they saw …

When Ted Robinson, doing the play-by-play, or analyst Yogi Roth comments on a play, watching in a bar or online comes without a DVR control. The ability to play producer, calling on as many replays as you would like, is one of the highlights of modern television viewing.

Not that Pac-12 Networks were stingy on replays. When the Cougars blocked an Oregon State punt early in the game, we were lucky to view five replays of Kainoa Wilson’s block and Tristan Brock’s eventual touchdown.

When there was a possible targeting call in the second quarter, we saw five replays of the nonpenalized hit.

But there was one second-quarter play when it looked as if the Beavers may have fumbled a completed pass, and the network never gave us opportunity to see it again.

Then again, on the three plays that were reviewed on an OSU scoring drive to open the second half, we saw every angle over and over again. Whether referee Kevin Mar’s crew got the calls correct, that’s still up in the air.

The best part of instant replay, however, is when Roth explains what is going on. On the Cougars’ first scoring drive, James Williams went 41 yards with a swing pass. The Beavers had a handful of chances to make tackles and missed, which Roth not only pointed out but spoke of their significance.

When Williams scored on a similar play late in the opening half, Roth identified the missed tackles and explained why they happened, harkening back to the earlier play.

He and Robinson did forget a couple of Washington State punts, though that might be forgiven as both teams eschewed punts on most fourth downs and went for a first down. The Beavers were successful on all five and Washington State both of its. The never-punt crowd probably enjoyed this one.

Although they called Darrien Molton’s name often after Oregon State pass completions or on corner blitzes, neither pointed out the Beavers were throwing at the WSU senior corner whenever they needed a conversion.

What we saw …

Aaron Rodgers’ most-recent State Farm commercial too many times, for one thing. We were not expecting to get an archrival today, but after watching the commercial 11 times, we have one and his name is Gabriel.

The other may be replay. It would be interesting to see how much time replay has added on to each individual game, but it had to be at least 15 minutes in this one.

The only guy we saw more than Gabriel, was Mar, when he announced the “ruling stands.”

We also saw a season’s worth of trick plays from the Beavers and most of them worked. OK, they all did, just varying degrees.

The Cougars kept it more traditional – that seems weird to type about a Mike Leach team – especially in the passing game. When Oregon State rushed three, they gave Gardner Minshew whatever time he needed to find an open receiver.

It not only resulted in 430 yards passing, with five touchdowns, but also Roth’s best line of the night.

“When you allow Minshew to cook steaks, he’s going to pick you apart,” Roth said, giving us a verbal image of Minshew sitting back with an apron on, standing in front of the barbecue and feeding his receivers.

No matter where or how you are watching the game, that sort of imagery travels.

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