While the rest of the nation’s attention spans were distracted by Mayweather and Canelo, Arizona State and the officials on site pickpocketed a win from the unsuspecting Wisconsin Badgers.
Unranked Arizona State and No. 20 Wisconsin’s ending highlighted the bizarre qualities of college football. College officials can be as amateurish as the players on the gridiron. Wisconsin fans have been here before. Back in 2011, this writer thought the Wisconsin Badgers would ride the Russell Wilson wave to a national championship. That hope was squashed by a Hail Mary catch that barely passed the goal line upon review.
The Badgers aren’t clinging to national championship hopes this fall, however, losing to Arizona State because of an official waiting too long to swap the ball for Wisconsin to spike and send their field goal team out there was a similarly heartbreaking defeat of the worst kind.
Here's the gist of what went down. Essentially, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave was ordered to position the ball at midfield for a game-tying field goal. After all, what could go wrong there? Kickers are a model of consistency.
Things went awry when Sun Devils linebacker Anthony Jones jumped on the ball thinking it was a fumble, while the time ticked off the clock. Maybe their brains were fried by the 103 degree temps that baked the Arizona desert for most of the day, but instead of stopping the clock for Jones to get off the ball or flagging the defense for delay of game, they allowed it to keep drawing down to zero. As a result, Wisconsin was unable to spike the ball on second down and bring out their field goal unit. You can still hear the chants of conspiracy and homerism from Big Ten fans.
It joined a pantheon of bizarre college football endings caused by officials errors including the infamous Fifth Down Game, the Oregon Oklahoma offside kick controversy in '06 and Miami’s “phantom pass interference” on fourth down against Ohio State during the ’03 National Championship Game.
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If you think I’m going to name Arizona State running back Marion Grice or their quarterback Taylor Kelly, you’re going to be wrong. The Sun Devils were actually the lowest-scoring Pac-12 offense this week. We expect 32 points or better from Arizona State. Besides their win was sullied by the officials. That award goes to USC coach Lane Kiffin. AGS has been harsh towards Kiffin on multiple occasions. Not as venomous as the fans creating real-life memes begging Pat Haden to fire him, however, in the first week since he gave Cody Kessler complete control of the offense, his offense gave the Boston College defense an autopsy.
Is this what happens when you piss Kiffin off? He got the blame seven days ago and he gets the credit for this Saturday. One week after the offense’s anemic performance in a loss to Washington State, the Trojans got back on the horse and pounced all over Boston College scoring seven offensive touchdowns in a rout. After surviving this week’s firestorm, it doesn’t get any easier for Kiffin moving forward. Who could blame him though if he strutted off the Los Angeles Colliseum field like a boss walking in slow motion away from an explosion. For one week, Kiffin extinguished the flames sprouting around his hot seat. We'll see if he’s only delaying the inevitable or charting a new course for his future at USC. First he'll have to start looking competitive and win a few games against the Oregon's of the college football world. This was a start though.