It was smart of the NFL to not compete with the Las Vegas Bowl tonight. All eyes were on the Badgers.
The Wisconsin Badgers (9-4) offense drained the final 9 minutes and 57 seconds off the clock to beat the Arizona State Sun Devils (8-5), 20-13, to win the illustrious SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl! You play to win the game!
That final drive was 9:57, 18 plays and 90 yards to seal the deal is the most Wisconsin way to close out a season as possible.
Arizona State was literally helpless to stop it and it was beautiful. If that game had been 40 minutes longer and the field 400 yards longer, Wisconsin would still have the ball.
Those last 10 minutes of that game is why I love Wisconsin football.
Jack Sandborn postgame said: “That was a Wisconsin drive.”
The play of the game was with 5:47 remaining in the fourth quarter and Wisconsin facing a third-and-12 from their own 24-yard line, Graham Mertz stood in the pocket and delivered a perfect pass to Chimere Dike that went for 30-yards to the Arizona State 46 yard line and Mertz was drilled on the throw.
That throw was for sure Mertz’s best throw of the season and very well may have been the best throw of his young career.
Braelon Allen carried the ball 29 times for 159 yards and was named the MVP of the game. It’s the most rushing yards by a Badgers freshman in a Bowl game since Ron Dayne ran for 246 yards in the 1996 Copper Bowl against Utah, but then again, then again, that game doesn’t exist according to the NCAA game statistics.
And just like that, the “Braelon Allen is 17” era is finished.
Leo Chenal finished with nine tackles and one sack, while Nick Herbig finished with seven tackles and two sacks.
Leo Chenal and John Chenal are both undecided on returning for another season in Madison in 2022 or taking their talents to the NFL.
Leo Chenal said whether his brother decides to return for a sixth year could impact him, but said he’ll do what’s in his best interest.
Graham Mertz completed 11-of-15 passes for 137 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Mertz didn’t protect the ball early in the season. He got better during the winning streak, but missed too many throws at Minnesota. Tonight, he made some big throws minus his top three receivers for a big chunk of the game.
I knew we’d win! Especially after ASU/the refs cheated us last time in 2013 in Tempe.
A tip of the ‘Grit Factory’ cap to the Wisconsin Badgers football program. A true grinder of a game tonight. Never question this group or this program’s heart. These guys wanted one more chance to play for each other, and they got it done. A 9:57 drive to end the game never hurts.
Chryst is still a genius. Paul Chryst is now 6-1 in Bowl Games as the head coach of Wisconsin and the Badgers have won eight of the last nine bowl games.
After that horrid month of September, Wisconsin finishes the year with nine wins.
Like Coach Barry Alvarez always said, we don’t just go to Bowls, we win Bowl games. Bowl games just matter more for the Wisconsin Badgers.
It was a fun season, Badger Family! A lot of ups and downs, but the future is bright and I’m definitely excited for the 2022 season!