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Against Wisconsin, ASU benefited from ‘the human element to the game’

TEMPE, Ariz. — Two days later, it is still the hot topic in college football: How the final 18 seconds played out between ASU and Wisconsin.

“I knew exactly what happened,” head coach Todd Graham said.

“When (Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave) went to set the ball, he kind of slipped,” Graham explained during his weekly Monday press conference. “And when he set the ball on the ground, what happened — if you watch the film — their right tackle, No. 78 for them (Rob Havenstein) he went like, ‘Oh,’ so everybody kind of flinched and then our guys jumped on the ball. I knew right then that they were going to have a hard time getting that play off.”

Wisconsin never ran another play as time expired before Stave had a chance to spike the football to set up for a potential game-winning field goal.

The Pac-12 reviewed the end of the game and determined, according to a statement released Monday, that neither the referee nor anyone on his crew moved with appropriate urgency to clearly communicate that the ball was to be spotted so play could resume promptly.

“Even I was hollering to get on the ball because when (Stave) set the ball down is what really started that,” Graham said. “Even their players kind of jumped at the ball, so it was kind of one of those deals that was very unusual.”

Commissioner Larry Scott agreed.

“This was an unusual situation to end the game,” he said in the same statement. “The officials fell short of the high standard in which Pac-12 games should be managed.”

The officials — referee Jack Folliard, umpire Douglas Wilson, head linesman Ryan Dickson, line judge Steven Kovac, side judge Aaron Santi, field judge Kevin Kieser and back judge Steve Steichen — have since been reprimanded and taken additional sanctions against according to Scott.

“That’s the human element to the game,” Graham said. “But at the end of the day I’m proud of our guys and how hard they played and they deserved to win. I really believe that. You check that one and you go to the next one.”

The next one for Graham and the 23rd-ranked Sun Devils is a visit to No. 5 Stanford Saturday.

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