Obviously Wisconsin and Arizona State don’t play each other too often in sports. They’re in different conferences and aren’t located close to each other. You know all this already if you’ve ever looked at a map of the United States. In fact, I doubt you can remember most non-conference games Wisconsin plays in football a year or two after they happen.
However, the last time the Badgers and Sun Devils got together on the gridiron...I bet you remember that one.
Back in 2013, the Badgers entered the season after finishing a bizarre 2012 season (one in which Bill C. called them the “greatest 8-6 team ever”). Wisconsin lost six games, three in overtime and none by more than seven points. They also won the Big Ten Title, waxing Nebraska 70-31, which they were only in because a bunch of other teams ahead of them were ineligible. Bret Bielema then left, before the Rose Bowl, to take the Arkansas job and the Badgers ended up hiring former Utah State coach Gary Andersen.
Needless to say, 2013 was going to be an interesting year for Wisconsin. They were losing Montee Ball, but had James White and Melvin Gordon still. QB Joel Stave was back from injury and the defense, which was switching to a 3-4 under Dave Aranda, had a lot of talent too. UW opened the season by beating UMass and Tennessee Tech by a combined 93-0. They moved up to No. 20 in the rankings and then had a road trip to Tempe, Ariz. on the docket.
Things got weird out west.
“I mean, I’ve never really seen anything like it in college football,” Sun Devils cornerback Osahon Irabor said.
“When things like that go your way it just goes to show you that you should win all along,” Arizona State safety Alden Darby said. “I was confused back there,” Darby added.
“The quarterback put the ball on the ground while he was still standing up, so that should have been a turnover,” ASU head coach Todd Graham said.
A back and forth game featuring multiple turnovers from both teams, missed scoring opportunities and impressive rushing performances from Gordon (15 carries, 193 yards, two TDs) and Arizona State’s Marion Grice (22 carries, 84 yards, four TDs) came down to the final drive.
The Badgers took over on their own 17-yard line with 1:31 left and down by two points. On third and four with 1:01 left, Stave hit Jeff Duckworth for 51 yards to get down to ASU’s 26-yard line. On third and three with 18 seconds left, Stave found Jared Abbrederis for a first down and, well, then all hell broke loose.
Stave took the snap from the right hash and went to kneel in the center of the field to make the game-winning field goal attempt easier. He places the ball where he kneeled so the refs, who had blown the whistle, could spot the ball and then Wisconsin could snap it and spike it, since they had no timeouts.
ASU defensive linemen Jaxon Hood and Anthony Jones leaped atop the dead ball, which the officials had just called, in what was, in the most generous of observations, a bit of gamesmanship. The refs who, again, had called the play dead didn’t remove the ASU players from the ball, didn’t stop the clock to remove the players from the ball who were clearly committing a delay of game penalty and, well, didn’t fucking do anything and time expired.
You can hear the whistle blow twice and see the referee point to the ground, signaling that Stave was down. The umpire just kinda stands around doing nothing and then all of the officials leave the field while the bewildered Badgers look for an explanation.
The Pac-12 issued this statement following the game:
Walnut Creek, Calif. — Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has reprimanded and taken additional sanctions against officials in Saturday night’s Wisconsin at Arizona State game for failing to properly administer the end of game situation and act with appropriate urgency on the game’s final play, it was announced today.
With 18 seconds remaining in the game, Wisconsin’s quarterback ran the ball toward the center of the field, touched his knee to the ground and then placed the ball on the ground. There was initial uncertainty over whether the quarterback had taken a knee, given himself up or fumbled the ball. As a result several Arizona State players considered the ball live and a fumble, and attempted to recover the ball.
Neither the referee nor anyone on his crew moved with appropriate urgency to clearly communicate that the ball was to be spotted so play could resume promptly.
“This was an unusual situation to end the game,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “After a thorough review, we have determined that the officials fell short of the high standard in which Pac-12 games should be managed. We will continue to work with all our officials to ensure this type of situation never occurs again.”
I am livid all over again. The Badgers need to run the score up on the Sun Devils in the Las Vegas Bowl with extreme prejudice.