Arizona State 32, Wisconsin 30: Curious Set of Circumstances Cost Badgers Shot at a Win





In one of the more bizzare finishes in recent college football history, the Arizona State Sun Devils hung on for a 32-30 Victory over No. 20 ranked Wisconsin Saturday night in Tempe.

Arizona State running back Marion Grice had 134 yards of total offense and four rushing touchdowns to contribute to the Sun Devils victory, and ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly threw for 352 yards in the win as well, with 104 of those yards going to Jaelen Strong.

Stave completed only 50 percent of his passes for 187 yards, and a superb effort by running back Melvin Gordon (193 yards on 15 carries) all went for naught in the end, given what happened in the last 18 seconds.

In those waning seconds, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave tried to center the ball to give the Badgers a chance at a game winning field goal. Stave knelt (according to the picture above) and then placed the ball on the ground. Officials blew the play dead, but Arizona State jumped on the ball. Stave seemed to be protesting his case instead of getting his team to the line, and the clock ran out on them. Video after the jump.




According to the NCAA rule book for football (available for purchase in dead tree form or electronically for free), as Rule 4, Section 1, Article 3-o states,

ARTICLE 3. A live ball becomes dead and an official shall sound his whistle
or declare it dead: o. When a ball carrier simulates placing his knee on the ground"

So even if Stave hadn't placed his knee on the ground all the way (which it appears he did), the act of him attempting to put his knee down should have signaled to the officials that he was essentially giving himself up. Of course, Stave complicated matters by not hustling his team to the line and instead backing out and arguing a bit.

The Pac-12 officials did err by blowing the play dead and then either not stopping the clock to get the ball ready for play or charging Arizona State with a delay of game penalty. It seems like they could have under Rule 3, Section 4, Article 3, Approved Ruling 3-4-3-V:

Late in the fourth quarter Team A trails by four points and is driving
for a potential score. After a running play on which the ball carrier is
tackled inbounds, Team B players are obviously and deliberately slow
in letting him get to his feet or otherwise are employing tactics to delay
the officials in making the ball ready for play. RULING: Dead-ball
foul against Team B, delay of game. When the ball is ready for play, the
referee will signal the 25-second clock to start, and the game clock will
start on the snap.

Granted, Stave had given himself up, but the whistle did blow, and then ASU pounced on the ball. A definitive call of a fumble was not made, so the whistle had to have been for a dead ball.

Also, why were these plays not reviewed by the booth? If every play in college football is to be reviewed, then why not buzz down before everyone left the field and say, "We need to look at this some more?"

Curious actions all around led to a dramatic game ending with a confused thud.


About Dave Singleton

Dave Singleton has been writing about sports and other stuff on the internet for over a decade. His work has been featured at Crystal Ball Run, Rock M Nation and Southern Pigskin. Born and raised on the East Coast, Dave attended college in the Midwest. He now lives in the Las Vegas area.