ASU ending a teaching moment for No. 24 Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The ending came up again in a team meeting for Wisconsin.
That ending — the bizarre finish last week at Arizona State that left the 24th-ranked Badgers with a stunning 32-30 defeat after not getting a shot in the final seconds to try a potential winning field goal.
The Badgers (2-1) talked about it again Monday. Coach Gary Andersen sees this whole experience as valuable learning tool for the rest of the season. He thinks his team has moved on, even if the questions kept popping up Tuesday.
“We’ll have no hangover. Communicating about it, talked about it. We put it to bed yesterday in a team meeting,” Andersen said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. “It’s not going to be a big discussion level for us.”
Practice Tuesday afternoon looked like any normal practice in Madison. Music blared through Camp Randall Stadium through periods, including the R&B classic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Andersen stood watch at midfield wearing his familiar visor. Running back Melvin Gordon knifed through the line of scrimmage as if he were ready to dash for another long touchdown.
They’re moving on — even though it’s hard to completely forget about it yet.
“It’s definitely going to be in the back of your mind. Things can happen,” senior offensive lineman Ryan Groy said. “We should have put that game away earlier. It shouldn’t have been up to the refs to decide that.”
By now, the frantic final seconds in Tempe have been replayed over and over on highlight reels. Here’s a brief refresher:
—Wisconsin drove to Arizona State’s 13-yard line with 18 seconds left. Trying to set up for a field goal, quarterback Joel Stave ran left and tried to take a knee in the middle of the field.
—He clipped one of his offensive linemen while trying to go down and plopped the ball onto the yard marker before hopping up quickly.
—Players from both teams were confused. The Sun Devils dove on the ball, thinking it was a fumble. Wisconsin lost precious seconds while Arizona State players were pulled off. More time ticked off when an official held the Badgers at the line of scrimmage before allowing them to snap the ball.
—Wisconsin tried to spike the ball, but ran out of time — 32-30 Arizona State.
In a statement, the Pac-12 Conference reprimanded the officials.
“After a thorough review, we have determined that the officials fell short of the high standard in which Pac-12 games should be managed,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the statement. It was read to Andersen for the first time during his own weekly news conference midday Monday in Madison.
Andersen had no further reaction to the explanation after getting a chance to read through it thoroughly. Clearly, though, the even-keeled Andersen wishes for another outcome.
“It is what it is. It’s life lessons, and we did try to talk about it in the team meeting,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to teach and talk to kids about things that will hit them in life that’s not real fair, no matter how you cut it. But you’ve got to deal with ’em.”
As tough as the last few days have been, Groy got the message.
“We knew it wasn’t fair for us,” he said. “It’s over. We can’t control it. We can’t fly back there and kick a field goal. We’ve got to get over it and move on.”
The bad ending also won’t deter Wisconsin from considering going on the road for another Pac-12 game either, Andersen said.
He declared the light practice Monday as clean and crisp. “We’re excited about the opportunity to move on to Big Ten play,” he said.
Oh yeah, the next game. Purdue visits Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday in the Big Ten opener.