Wisconsin Sports

After bizarre loss, Wisconsin focuses on Purdue

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin is trying to move past an excruciating and bizarre loss, and focus on its Big Ten opener against Purdue.

The No. 24 Badgers (2-1) lost 32-30 to Arizona State when officials erred in allowing the clock to expire, denying the Badgers the opportunity to attempt a possible game-winning field goal. The Pac-12 issued a statement Monday acknowledging the errors by its officiating crew, saying it has "reprimanded and taken additional sanctions against officials" in their handling of the final seconds.

"To us, it doesn't matter. It's probably the PC (politically correct) thing to do and something they had to do," said Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland. "But, we don't care about that. We lost the game, so that's all we care about."

"You can't afford to dwell," Borland said. "You really don't have time, our busy schedules, the practicality of things that we need to do next Saturday, make it easy to forget about what transpired, regardless of if it was something like last week or if it would have been a game-winning kick, we'd have to move on either way."

But athletic director Barry Alvarez remains unhappy. He said on radio station 1070-AM in Madison on Monday that it didn't matter how long the loss would linger for him because he was no longer playing or coaching.

"It's going to bother me for a long time. I can't wait to see that official again," he said with a slight laugh on a podcast of the show posted on the station's website.

What would he tell the official?

"I'd rather not say," Alvarez said.

In looking for answers after the game, Alvarez said he never got a good explanation. Among responses given, Alvarez recounted on the show, was that players thought there may have been a fumble.

He stood steadfastly behind coach Gary Andersen, and praised the Badgers for doing what they were coached to do.

Alvarez said on the radio show that he thought there might be a situation where a replay official can buzz to the field if there was a problem.

"You get an apology. You get an admission that they were at fault, they made a number of mistakes. There's nothing you can do with it, but you know that you weren't wrong," Alvarez said. "Our players did the right thing, does that help our record? No. But it's closure to know what we've coached and what we've practiced.

"You want the kids to decide the game, not the officials," he said.

Andersen said he didn't expect the result of the game to be changed.

"It doesn't change the outcome obviously and, like I said earlier, I don't expect that," Andersen said. "But, it's accountability and at the end of the day, that's what we asked for."

One aspect of the play that seemed to throw everyone off was quarterback Joel Stave planting the ball on the field and backing away. One Wisconsin player started to lunge toward the ball after seeing it lying on the ground and Arizona State's players converged on it as their coaches yelled from the sideline that it was a fumble.

Andersen said Stave did exactly what he was taught to do.

"The idea of him putting the ball on the ground is to give the officials the opportunity to get the ball spotted quicker and cleaner," Andersen said. "The officials, wherever they were, but they weren't there to turn around and get the ball. That whole process of Joel looking around behind him, walking back there, where am I going to put the ball, how am I going to put the ball, that takes time, that takes valuable seconds and moments."

Wisconsin's last 11 losses dating back to October 2010 have been by a touchdown or less, including the 37-31 "Hail Mary" loss to Michigan State in 2011 on the final play of the game.

The Badgers, who dominated Massachusetts and FCS school Tennessee Tech in a pair of shutouts, were shredded for 468 yards by the Sun Devils, including 352 passing by Taylor Kelly, who completed 29 of 51 passes.

"Did we play great defense, which was in the plan to winning that game? No, we did not," Andersen said. "It was solid enough to keep us in the game and put us in a position to be able to do some good things."

Purdue (1-2), which has lost seven straight to Wisconsin, is next for the Badgers in the Big Ten home opener. Wisconsin has won four consecutive Big Ten home openers and nine of its last 10.

"I think everybody's a little edgy, everybody's a little excited," Andersen said. "Coming back home, first Big Ten game, all that is there. I think our kids will bounce back will. It's part of life. It's life lessons that can be learned, you can only control what you can control."

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