Jeff Duckworth

Questionable officiating helps Penn State tie Wisconsin at half

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Penn State got the big plays early and the big breaks late in the first half in Madison. The Badgers, heavy favorites in this one, find themselves tied with Penn State, 14-14.

Penn State struck early with a 68-yard touchdown pass from Christian Hackenberg to tight end Adam Brenenaman, who broke a tackle and maintained his balance to sprint to the end zone before any Badgers could catch up to him. Penn State again used a big play to their advantage when Allen Robinson made some moves for a big gain on another promising possession, but Wisconsin held Penn State to a failed field goal attempt. Sam Ficken‘s kick was low and blocked at the line.

Wisconsin answered in the second quarter with a pair of touchdown passes by Joel Stave. The first score came early with a short pass to Brian Wozniak, his third touchdown catch on the year despite just four receptions at that point. The Badgers struck again when Stave threw a dart over the middle to Jeff Duckworth to give Wisconsin the lead.

Penn State would tie things up though with a late first half possession, getting some breaks to help them out. A questionable interference call against Wisconsin in the end zone gave Penn State a great scoring opportunity and the Badgers were not awarded a timeout despite head coach Gary Andersen running down the sideline calling for one. Penn State wide receiver Eugene Lewis was wide open, with no Wisconsin defender within 20 yards of him on the left side of the field as Penn State got the play off before a timeout could be called. Hackenberg tossed one of the easiest touchdown plays he will see to take advantage of the non-timeout.

Penn State’s defense was dealt a bit of a blow when they lost corner Adrian Amos. Amos is battling a foot sprain and tried to give it a go in Madison, but after one series his day appears to be done. If Amos is going to be unavailable for the rest of this game, Wisconsin should be able to thrive throwing the football a little bit. Amos has been Penn State’s best player in the secondary. Wisconsin wide receiver Jordan Frederick left the game to be treated for a right shoulder injury in the first quarter.

Weird ending sees Arizona State top Wisconsin

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Joel Stave thought he was doing the right thing.

Wisconsin was at the Arizona State 13-yard line with 18 seconds left to play in Saturday’s night game in Tempe. The Badgers trailed the Sun Devils 32-30 and Stave snapped the ball and prepared to kill the clock to set up a game-winning field goal.

Only he didn’t.

After taking the snap, Stave moved to his left and, after bumping into one of his lineman, he placed the ball delicately onto the field rather than spiking it. It should’ve been ruled a fumble. The officials marked the ball and signaled for the Badgers to wait.

Confusion ensued while the game clock continued to wind down and, before Wisconsin could gather its wits and set up another play, time expired and ASU escaped with a bizarre 32-30 win.

“I’ve never seen anything like that in college football, ever,” Arizona State cornerback Osahon Irabor said afterward.

The Sun Devils appeared to have a solid lead when running back Marion Grice scored his fourth touchdown to put his team ahead, 32-24, with 8:50 to play. But Wisconsin stormed back as Melvin Gordon scored his second touchdown with 3:53 to play to cap a 75-yard drive.  ASU couldn’t kill the clock on its ensuing drive and Wisconsin got the ball back and stormed down the field thanks to a 51-yard pass from Stave to Jeff Duckworth. The game was set up for the Badgers to win.

Then Stave’s head-scratcher occurred.

It was a fitting capper to an entertaining game as both teams flashed signs of dominance and ineptitude throughout the contest. Wisconsin wasted a fine performance by Gordon, who rushed for 193 yards on just 15 carries. ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly was 29 of 51 for 352 yards, with 104 of those yards coming via receiver Jaelen Strong’s six receptions.

It wasn’t a pretty way to win, but Arizona State will take it. The Sun Devils showed they have the firepower and the moxie to be legitimate contenders for the Pac-12 South title as they grabbed their first win over a ranked opponent since early 2011.

Wisconsin will be kicking itself for a while, but Big Ten play awaits. Gordon is going to be a handful for the conference and if the Badgers can get better play out of the quarterback spot, there’s no reason the Big Ten Leaders division shouldn’t be decided by a late-September tussle in Columbus.

For now, score one for the Pac-12 in the never-ending battle for conference supremacy.