Going into the contest tonight, a Big Ten school had never won at Sun Devil Stadium. They had outscored the conference 320-11 en route to an 8-0 all-time record. Make that 9-0 after Saturday night’s win.
The Sun Devils (2-0) defeated No. 20 Wisconsin (2-1) 32-30 Saturday night in Tempe in front of 66,155 fans.
It was a nail-biting final two minutes in the annual Blackout game, as ASU held a two-point lead and Wisconsin took possession with 1 minute 36 seconds remaining. Badgers quarterback Joel Stave threw 51 yards downfield to Jeff Duckworth on third down and two more completions put Wisconsin within field goal range. Stave then attempted to run time off the clock with a short run, but the officials ruled that he failed to put his knee down and the clock ran out.
Running back Marion Grice led the Sun Devils’ offensive attack as he scored four touchdowns on a team-high 84 rushing yards and added 50 receiving yards. His four touchdowns are the most for a Sun Devil since Mike Williams in 2002 against Arizona. Wide receiver Jaelen Strong added six catches for 104 yards and quarterback Taylor Kelly passed for 352 yards.
The Sun Devils’ defense racked up six tackles for loss and broke up six passes as defensive back Osahon Irabor led the way with seven tackles, including a pair of tackles for loss and a tone-setting sack in the first quarter.
ASU held the Badgers scoreless on 31 total yards in the first quarter and kept them pinned deep in Sun Devil territory as they took a 3-0 advantage into the second frame.
The Badgers, however, put together a 73-yard scoring drive and capitalized on a botched special teams play in the Devil’s first drive of the second quarter to take a 14-3 lead. ASU punter Dom Vizarre fumbled the snap and chased it toward the endzone, but Wisconsin nose guard Beau Allen got their first for the touchdown.
ASU answered with a 73-yard drive behind Kelly’s 5-for-5 passing that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Grice. A 19-yard field goal by kicker Zane Gonzales cut their deficit to one, 14-13, going into halftime.
Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon took the ball 80 yards for a score on the first play from scrimmage to start the second half to extend their lead, 21-13.
Both teams traded possessions throughout the quarter before ASU put together a nine-play, 44-yard drive that lasted 4 minutes 42 seconds and ended with a one-yard touchdown run by Grice. Kelly found wide receiver Kevin Ozeir for a 34-yard strike to put the Devils inside the redzone and a pair of carries by running back Deantre Lewis set up the eventual touchdown by Grice. ASU failed to convert the game-tying two-point conversation and trailed by two heading into the final quarter, 21-19.
Wisconsin added a field goal on the next drive to make it 24-19, but the next two Sun Devil drives resulted in a pair of Grice touchdowns to give ASU the lead, 32-24.
The Devils then forced the Badgers into a 4th-and-five from their own 30-yard line, but a fake punt extended Wisconsin’s drive and seven plays later they scored on a one-yard run to bring them within two, 32-30. Devilbacker Carl Bradford pressured Stave on the two-point conversion and forced an errant throw to preserve ASU’s lead.
ASU travels to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on defending Pac-12 champion and current No. 5 Stanford on Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. PT. The game will be televised nationally on Fox.