If you missed the end of Wisconsin at Arizona State late Saturday night (Sunday morning in the east), you missed a bizarre finish and yet another raging controversy involving Pac-12 officials.
Arizona State won the game, 32-30, and that outcome won’t change. But Wisconsin fans will be screaming about this one for years.
You could also argue that the Badgers should have never let it come down to the officials.
Wisconsin appeared in perfect position late to kick the game-winning field goal with a first down at the Arizona State 13 with 18 seconds left.
With no time outs left, though, Wisconsin decided to center the ball to give their kicker a straighter angle.
Quarterback Joel Stave took the snap and moved to his left and appeared to try to take a knee as he rolled into the back of one of his own lineman.
Instead of handing the ball to the official, Stave placed the ball where he thought he went down and Arizona State, thinking it was a live ball, jumped on it.
Confusion set in as the clock ticked down, and by the time the ball was reset, the game clock had expired.
Wisconsin thought it deserved one more chance to spike the ball. There is a new rule this year, however, that states that you can’t spike it inside of three seconds remaining.
“I don’t have a lot to say,” Wisconsin Coach Gary Andersen said after the game. “It is a shame that it went down that way.”
A Pac-12 official said Sunday that the play would be looked at Monday as part of its regular weekly review.
This was certainly not as clear-cut blatant as the botched 2006 finish between Oklahoma and Oregon, arguably the greatest officiating fiasco ever involving a Pac-12 school.
Oklahoma was robbed in that game after Oregon was allowed to recover a late onside kick that was clearly touched by a Duck player before the ball traveled the requisite 10 yards.
And, oh yeah, Oklahoma actually recovered the ball. Oregon was awarded the ball and ended up winning, 34-33. The then-Pac-10 suspended the officiating crew and the incident ultimately led to a complete overhaul of the officiating staff.
Saturday night’s finish appeared more a case of confusion than incompetence.
It started when Stave put the ball on the field.
“We just jumped on it,” Arizona State safety Alden Darby said. “And I guess time ran out so we won. I was confused back there.”
He wasn’t the only one.
Arizona State improved to 2-0 for the season while Wisconsin fell to 2-1.
Arizona State opens Pac-12 play next week at Stanford while Wisconsin hosts Purdue in its Big Ten opener.
Andersen said it is important for Wisconsin to move on after a painful defeat.
“The lesson is don’t let ASU beat you twice,” he said.
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