ASU beats No. 20 Wisconsin 32-30 in controversial finishPosted: Updated:
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Chaos. Glorious chaos.
When the dust had settled, Arizona State had a 32-30 win over No. 20 Wisconsin, yet the way that this game ended will ensure controversy will be the order of the day for quite some time.
With just seconds remaining, the Badgers looked like a lock to steal a last-second win away from the Sun Devils. At the ASU 13-yard line, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave took the snap, ran left to center the upcoming field goal attempt, and then...
It all depends on which side you are on.
To the Badgers, Stave gave himself up with an apparent kneel down, as he placed the ball on the turf. To ASU, it was a fumble, and several Sun Devil defenders jumped on it. In any event, the clock ran out, and ASU had themselves a startling win.
"It looked like a fumble. We saw a ball on the ground and jumped on it," said ASU safety Alden Darby.
The Sun Devils appeared primed to make an early statement. Big completions to Jaelen Strong and Chris Coyle helped get ASU into the Badger redzone, and Todd Graham soon faced a decision: Go for it on a 4th and 1 from the Badger three-yard line, or kick the field goal? He opted to gamble, but it failed to pay off, as Kelly's pass to Kevin Ozier fell incomplete.
The teams then traded punts, as the ASU defense looked to hold the mighty Badger ground game in check. The Sun Devils struck first when they managed a 34-yard field goal by Zane Gonzalez, but Wisconsin immediately answered back.
Helped by 19-yard runs by James White and Melvin Gordon, the Badgers capped a 10-play, 73-yard drive with a Joel Stave touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Pederson.
Things continued to get worse for ASU.
A three-and-out by the ASU offense followed, but then a bad snap on the punt attempt rolled by punter Dom Vizzare, who chased the ball and tried in vain to recover it. He was unsuccessful, and the Badgers' Beau Allen recovered the ball in the end zone for the score.
The Sun Devils then mounted a rally to close out the half.
ASU went to a quicker passing attack, and Kelly completed all five of his passes for 60 yards on a drive that was ended by a one-yard scoring run by Marion Grice. Just before halftime, they added a 19-yard field goal by Gonzalez to trim the lead to 14-13.
The second half began ominously for the Sun Devils.
Wisconsin scored on the half's first play, an 80-yard touchdown run by Melvin Gordon, and after ASU looked to rebound following a muffed Wisconsin punt, Taylor Kelly's first interception of the year on the next play ended that threat.
Thankfully for ASU, they had Marion Grice.
Grice scored three second half touchdowns, including the eventual game-winner from 12-yards out. Kelly and Jaelen Strong connected several times down the stretch to help revive an ASU offense that sputtered in the first half.
Yet, it all appeared for naught as the final seconds ticked away.
Wisconsin took over down two at their own 16-yard line with 1:36 left. On a 3rd and 4, Jeff Duckworth broke a Robert Nelson tackle that resulted in a 51-yard gain and set Wisconsin up for the game-winning field goal.
With under 20 seconds left...well, watch and judge for yourself:
The win moves ASU to 2-0 on the season, with a likely spot in the Top 25 polls awaiting them. Next week, they will travel to face fifth-ranked Stanford.
Stats and Notes
- This is the first game in which Taylor Kelly threw an interception that ASU won. He finished 29 of 51 for 352 yards and one interception.
- Wisconsin linebacker Chris Boland threw perhaps Wisconsin's most important pass of the night, a 23-yard completion on a fake punt to extend a drive that ended with a Gordon touchdown before ASU's final drive.
- With his four touchdowns tonight, Grice has six through two games this year, and 23 in his 15 games as a Sun Devil.
- ASU outgained Wisconsin 468 to 441.
- The Sun Devils had three penalties for 15 yards, giving them four for 20 this year.
- Sophomore wide receiver Rick Smith was pulled from the game after dropping three passes. He was replaced by walk-on Frederick Gammage, who made his first career catch in the game.
- Taylor Kelly had his ninth career punt, a 29 yarder that was downed at the Badger eight. It was Kelly's eighth career punt down inside an opponent's 20-yard line.