The Wisconsin Connection
Just like the Green Bay Packers couldn’t hope for the NFL to reverse course and declare a win after what was technically a loss in the aftermath of the “Fail Mary” game last year at Seattle, the Wisconsin Badgers can’t hope for the NCAA to change the outcome of last weekend’s loss at Arizona State either.
Fans don’t have to be happy with the way the game was handled in the desert this past Saturday, but they do have to live with it.
The human element always has been and always should be part of the game. Certain plays can always be overturned by replay, certain records can have an asterisk next to them, but it would be setting dangerous precedent to start the practice of changing win-loss records, and we’re not talking about retroactively vacating victories.
I wanted to share a few items I found this week regarding the now-infamous ending to the Badgers-Sun Devils game that I haven’t seen covered by the Wisconsin media. If they have already been mentioned, I apologize. But I found them very interesting.
Some people have criticized the actions of Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave, who knelt rather quickly and then set the ball down on the field, which prompted an Arizona State defender to pounce on the ball and milk precious seconds off the clock. Head coach Gary Andersen has defended Stave, saying he did what he was coached to do.
And really, I can see where the Badgers are coming from. By setting the ball down, they assumed they were expediting the process of getting the ball ready for play. But in hindsight, that was a mistake.
In listening to the ESPNU College Football Podcast on Tuesday with Ivan Maisel (who’s a wealth of knowledge, by the way), he discussed the best way to handle a hurry-up situation.
“Peter King did a story in Sports Illustrated right before the NFL season began, in which he sat in with Bruce Arians in Arizona in a two-minute drill meeting,” said Maisel. “And Arians went over with his ball handlers, when you are tackled, you get up and hand the ball to the umpire. Then the defense can’t fall on it, can’t kick it away, can’t do anything. The umpire will put the ball down, and we can get back to work.”
All Stave and Wisconsin can do is live and learn, and next time not repeat history.
The officials, however, aren’t blameless in this whole mess. With 18 seconds left in the game, it was understandable for the Badgers to assume they’d have enough time to run another play, and the officials didn’t act with the necessary urgency.
What’s particularly interesting is another item from Maisel and the ESPNU podcast.
“The Pac-12 is the last conference that does not, that in big intra-conference games, its officials work the home field,” said Maisel. “In every other intra-conference game that’s set up, officials travel with the visiting team.”
I wasn’t aware the Pac-12 was the only conference to use this practice. Obviously the Pac-12 could have avoided the black eye and criticism that came with their officials blowing the end of the game.
Wisconsin can’t afford to let this loss linger. The Badgers start the Big Ten season on Saturday with their goals of winning a league crown still ahead of them.
They may not be in contention for the national championship any longer, but they probably wouldn’t have been one of top two teams anyway. Regardless, the opportunity is still there for Wisconsin to qualify for their fourth consecutive Rose Bowl. And who knows? Perhaps they could even face Arizona State in a re-match.
But first the Badgers have to take care of business starting with Purdue at Camp Randall. It’s important for the Badgers to feel good about themselves before heading to Ohio State next week in what might be the toughest game of the season.
The Boilermakers are off to a disappointing 1-2 start under new head coach Darrell Hazell, but their strength is in their secondary, especially cornerback Ricardo Allen and safety Landon Fletcher.
Wisconsin and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis might find it difficult to pass the ball consistently against such a defensive backfield, but will find much it much easier if the running game can open things up through the air.
Prediction: There’s no reason the Badgers shouldn’t be able to pound the football with Melvin Gordon, James White and Corey Clement. Wisconsin rolls, 40-20. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m. CT on ABC from the East coast to the Midwest. It will be on ESPN2 in the western part of the country.
Where College GameDay Is At
Again, with no premiere game this weekend, ESPN’s College GameDay chose to go on the road to visit Fargo, home to North Dakota State, the two-time defending FCS champions.
About once every year or every other year, GameDay goes to an unexpected location, either a lower-level football school or service academy, which is great. After their upset of Kansas State earlier this year, North Dakota State deserves the publicity.
Even so, I’m not about to break down their game against Delaware State. Instead, we’ll give quick previews on a few under-the-radar games this week…
Arizona State at Stanford
Probably the best game on this weekend’s docket. Arizona State’s up-tempo offense takes on Stanford’s hard-nosed defense.
Don’t look much into Stanford struggling against Army last week. Almost every team finds difficulty in facing the triple-option, plus they had to deal with a 12:00 ET kickoff, which would normally be 9:00 a.m. PT.
Prediction: Stanford holds their ground for a 28-21 victory. Television coverage is on Fox starting at 6:00 p.m. CT.
Auburn at LSU
It will be incredibly difficult for Auburn to go into Death Valley for an LSU night game and pull out a victory, but give the Tigers credit for a 3-0 start to the season. After going 3-9 last year, the Gus Malzahn era is off to a great start.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is leaps and bounds better than where he was two years ago, even a year ago. Don’t be surprised if he’s at least a Day 2 draft choice this upcoming April.
Prediction: LSU rides the lubed-up home crowd to a 36-14 stomping. Kickoff is at 6:45 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Utah State at USC
USC is on upset alert, because for one, their offense can’t get out of neutral, and two, Utah State is no pushover.
Overlooked in the Trojans’ dismal start to the season is the fact that their defense is really, really good, ranking No. 2 in the nation in rushing defense.
Prediction: Utah State is more than quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Their offensive line and linebackers can hang with USC. We’re calling for the upset, 24-23. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m. CT on the ABC/ESPN2 reverse mirror with the Wisconsin game.
Michigan State at Notre Dame
After losing to Michigan for their first regular season loss in two years, the spotlight is finally off Notre Dame. But its hopes of qualifying for a BCS bowl aren’t dashed yet, as long as they keep winning.
Even though it was only against Youngstown State, Michigan State finally found a quarterback with a pulse, after Connor Cook threw four touchdown passes last week. He’ll need to play well if the Spartans hope to beat the Fighting Irish.
Prediction: Cook won’t look terrible, but he’s not ready to beat the Golden Domers on their home turf. Irish win in a defensive struggle, 24-16. Television coverage is on NBC at 2:30 p.m. CT.
Missouri at Indiana
Indiana isn’t bad. As pointed out by Phil Steele, the Hoosiers’ 150 points in a three-game span is their most since 1917. Their loss to Navy may not look so bad at the end of the season if they have two or less losses.
Missouri might not have beat anyone yet, but they’re looking to building a head of steam going into the SEC schedule.
Prediction: A basketball game on grass. Missouri 41, Indiana 35. Check it out at 7:00 p.m. CT on the Big Ten Network.
Utah at BYU
The Holy War. If you stay up late enough, you can see arguably the most important game in the careers of players from the Beehive State.
After beating Texas, BYU should be riding high behind the ground-game combo of quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Jamaal Williams.
Prediction: BYU outlasts Utah 35-25. You’ll have to wait until 9:15 p.m. CT for this one on ESPN2.
What Happened Before Saturday
How nice of Clemson not to pull a Clemson.
This was exactly the type of game the Tigers would lose in the past, the type they shouldn’t, going in favored.
It wasn’t pretty, but Clemson escaped North Carolina State with a nationally televised Thursday night victory, preserving their No. 3 spot in the Associated Press poll.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd got off to a slow start, not able to find his rhythm for most of the first quarter. But no, Boyd’s Heisman chances aren’t kaput just because he had a mediocre half of football, as CollegeFootballNews.com suggested.
By the end of the game, Boyd completed 24 of 37 passes for 244 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. It was Boyd’s play in the second half of the game that helped allow Clemson to pull away.
Boyd’s chance of winning the Heisman, like Clemson’s chance of going undefeated, will be determined more by their future schedule, including games against Florida State and South Carolina among the highest profile.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book “It’s Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America,” and editor of Cheesehead TV’s “Pro Football Draft Preview.” To contact Brian, email email@example.com.