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Saturday, September 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 72.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Wisconsin Badgers find a confusing way to lose at ASU

Probably the least controversial thing you can say about the end of the Wisconsin-Arizona State game last Saturday is that the Badgers lose football games in the damnedest ways.

If you had better things to do at 1 a.m. and missed the end, UW was trailing 32-30 with 18 seconds left. The Badgers had no timeouts and a first down on ASU's 13-yard line. Instead of sending erratic kicker Kyle French to attempt a go-ahead field goal, UW coaches took a risk: Have quarterback Joel Stave take a snap, down the ball in the center of the field to give French a better kicking angle, then hustle the offense into position to get another snap and spike the ball to kill the clock with at least three seconds left, under new NCAA rules.

That's a lot to pack into 15 seconds, so things had to go smoothly. They didn't, of course. Stave dropped to his knee in the blink of an eye while simultaneously running into a lineman, and just as quickly arose while leaving the ball on the ground. At least one official saw Stave's knee touch the turf, because the whistle blew, but most officials clearly missed what had happened. The play looked like a fumble in real time (and in the 20 times I've replayed it online), and an ASU defender fell on the ball.

In other words, the fast kneel and the ball on the ground generated tremendous confusion, which you cannot have with the clock running down and no way to stop it. The game ended without another play and all hell broke loose in Badgerland. Conspiracy! Robbery! Fix!

If I were a Badgers fan, I'd be pissed, too. The officials certainly should have reset the ball for the spike before time expired. To be fair, though, they'd probably never seen a play quite like that. I'm not sure anyone has.

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