The last play of the game wasn’t the only play where the Wisconsin Badgers were looking around confused. Their defense was seemingly stunned all night long by the Arizona State Sun Devils‘ passing attack.
Badger fans can pin the 32-30 loss on a bizarre ending or the referees all they want. The truth is that Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly, wide receiver Jaelen Strong, running back Marion Grice, running back D.J. Foster and the rest of the Arizona State offense beat them.
By the time that strange final play came about, the Badgers’ defense had allowed the Sun Devils to record 32 first downs and outgain the Wisconsin offense 468-441. Of course, it can’t be assumed that Wisconsin would have made a game-winning field goal if they had been able to get the clocked stop in those waning seconds of regulation. That said, the Badgers’ offense played almost well enough to overcome the poor defensive showing.
Wisconsin rushed 32 times for 231 yards and two touchdowns. The Badgers’ sophomore quarterback Joel Stave went 15-of-30 for 187 yards and a touchdown. With a rushing attack that effective, those numbers at quarterback are great.
It was another outstanding night for sophomore running back Melvin Gordon, who gained 193 rushing yards on 15 carries and scored both of the Badgers’ touchdowns on the ground, a ridiculous 12.9 yards per carry average.
Gordon’s fantastic performance will be wasted in posterity, however, because all Badgers fans will remember is how the team couldn’t finish the game. The final play was an odd sight. Wisconsin had the ball on the right hash mark inside the Arizona State 15 yard line with under 20 seconds to play on a first-and-10 with no timeouts remaining.
Stave took the snap from under center and ran to the middle of the field and placed the ball on the 15-yard line standing up. In the confusion that resulted from Stave not taking a knee, the referees did not re-spot the ball in time and the game clock expired before the Badgers could spike the ball to stop the clock.
The referee should have realized the situation that Stave had given himself up and hurried to spot the ball for the Wisconsin offense. Stave, to avoid the confusion, should have taken a knee. Those events weren’t what lost this football game for Wisconsin though — allowing Grice to score four touchdowns and Kelly to throw for 352 yards is.
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