Arizona State comes up short in grind-it-out Las Vegas Bowl
Arizona State got three possessions in the second half of Thursday night’s Las Vegas Bowl.
The Wisconsin Badgers, as Wisconsin teams have done to everyone for years and years and years, played possession and relied on its ground game in the third and fourth quarters to beat the Sun Devils 20-13.
Arizona State trailed 20-6 at the halftime break. A pair of first-half field goals were products of grind-it-out drives against a stout Wisconsin front seven. Nothing came easy. Quarterback Jadyen Daniels was running for his life as the Sun Devils struggled to consistently give him a pocket from which to throw.
Wisconsin, for the game, had four sacks and eight tackles for loss.
Really, though, against the best run defense in the country and missing a number of key starters, Arizona State struggled to do much in the first half. The Sun Devils got just 3 yards per play in the opening 30 minutes while the Badgers were north of 7 yards, at one point averaging more than 10 yards per run.
But there was life in the second half. Early on in the third quarter, the Sun Devil defense bowed up. Wisconsin had minus-7 yards of offense in the third quarter. Arizona State scored its lone touchdown of the game to cut the deficit to one possession with a five-play, 64-yard drive.
It got just two possessions the rest of the way.
With 9:57 to play in the game, Wisconsin took over at its own 3-yard-line. The Badgers then proceeded to salt away the remainder of the clock, kneeling out the final minute-and-a-half to secure the win.
ASU was able to force third down three times on the drive but couldn’t get off the field. The first, a third-and-1, saw UW running back Braelon Allen get 3. He’s finish the game with 29 carries for 159 yards rushing.
The back-breaker was a third-and-12 that went for 30 yards. A stunt let the Sun Devils get to quarterback Graham Mertz as he was throwing the ball, but just a split second too late. Mertz hit a deep crosser to an open man and moved the ball into ASU territory. Wisconsin didn’t have to throw it again.
Daniels finished the game 11-for-21 passing, with 159 yards and an interception. He also ran it 19 times for only 40 yards.
The Sun Devils end the season at 8-5.