No one really knows what officially happened at the end of the Wisconsin Badgers controversial 32-30 loss to Arizona State.
It appeared that Badgers quarterback Joel Stave performed a hybrid of kneeling/spiking the ball which confused a questionable set of Pac-12 officials who then went on to botch the entire play completely.
Regardless of whether the Sun Devils deserved the win or not, it was a highly entertaining game in Tempe where we learned a lot about both of these college football teams.
What It Means: Wisconsin (2-1) is a team capable of competing on the road with other teams from major conferences. The Badgers held a lead for most of the game and made some key in-game adjustments that allowed them to do so throughout the first half.
As usual, the run game was the most successful facet of the Badgers game. They racked up 231 yards rushing against a stellar Arizona State defensive line. The same can’t be said about Stave and the passing game because it was a struggle for that area of the offense for most of the night. Stave missed wide-open receivers, had three passes batted down and simply made some bad decisions on many occasions. Going 15-for-30 for 187 yards and one touchdown in a game where the defense was keyed in on the run-game won’t get it done in close games.
The defense was a refreshing surprise early in the game as they showed an aggressive style of play like we’ve never seen from the Badgers before. The only problem was that the young secondary had to be on the field for 93 plays.
Player of the Game: RB Melvin Gordon (15 carries, 193 yards and two touchdowns)
Gordon was electric as ever in the showdown with Arizona State. The sophomore home-run threat averaged 12.9 yards per carry and took the first play from scrimmage in the second half 80 yards to the house. Who says the Big 10 doesn’t have Pac-12 speed?
Highlight of the Game: Had to be Gordon’s 80 yard touchdown to open up the second half. He is so fast when he reaches the outside and can just outrun defenders. There’s definitely some truth to fans who think Gordon should receive the majority of the carries going forward.
Stat of the Game (4): The number of touchdowns scored by SunDevils running back Marion Grice. The first Badgers’ opponent to do so since 2008 when Iowa’s Shonn Greene had four on October 18th.
What’s Next: Let the conference season begin with the Purdue Boilermakers. Like the Badgers, Purdue (1-2) also has a new coach in Darrell Hazell. After being blown out to open the season (42-7 loss at Cincinnati), the Boilermakers have improved with a win over Indiana State and a close 31-24 loss to Notre Dame. Big Ten games are always a battle, but the Badgers should have a huge edge playing at Camp Randall.
What did you think of the Badgers loss at Arizona State? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow paulmbanks