We know the Big Ten isn't real good in football this season. At least this weekend, while barely breaking .500 (7-5), the league gave the nation something to talk about.
Michigan, proclaimed by many last week (including me) as the conference's new best team after beating Notre Dame, had to stop Akron on the 4-yard line on the final play at the Big House to win 28-24.
That's an Akron program that hasn't won a road game in five years and in its past 50 games is 6-44. Oh, and the Zips were a 36-point underdog.
“That is truly embarrassing for the University of Michigan,'' UM All-America tackle Taylor Lewan said. “We will not come out like that again.''
Nebraska did something people hadn't seen in 93 years. It blew an 18-point lead at home in falling 41-21 to UCLA, then couldn't decide after the game if the offense or defense deserved more blame.
Purdue, which was in real jeopardy of losing the week before to FCS foe Indiana State, had No. 21 Notre Dame on the run to the end before losing 31-24.
“I'm not sure it validates or doesn't validate,'' said Boilermaker coach Darrell Hazell, who hosts Nebraska on Oct. 12. “But we are getting better.''
The prize for the craziest Big Ten outcome, however, goes to Wisconsin, a 32-30 loser at Arizona State early Sunday morning.
“I've never been a part of one (like that),'' UW coach Gary Andersen said.
With 18 seconds left, the Badgers could have attempted a winning 30-yard field goal from the right hash mark. Instead, Andersen ordered quarterback Joel Stave to take a snap, slide to his left, down the ball in the middle of the field and then spike the next snap.
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The problem is Stave stumbled, and set the ball on the ground without clear evidence he knelt down. Whistles blew dead what could have been a live ball. But the Pac-12 officiating crew let the clock run as Arizona State defenders smothered the ball.
The umpire didn't get the ball back and reset it for play until three seconds remained — too late for Wisconsin to line up for a clock-killing spike.
“We practice that scenario with that exact amount of time on the clock,'' Andersen said. “It wasn't like it was a stressful situation. No way, with 18 seconds on the clock.''
So why wasn't the clock stopped?
“I got no answer,'' Andersen said. “It's a shame it went down the way it did. I'd like to get an explanation. ... It's gut-wrenching.''
ESPN analysts Danny Kanell and Jesse Palmer on Sunday morning were critical of the officiating crew for not getting the ball ready to play more quickly and for not reviewing the kneel-down play.
Did Wisconsin get a bad deal? Technically, it looks like it.
But if your field-goal kicker can't make one from 30 yards on the right hash mark, you've got a problem. On the road, never cut it that close with the clock.