Best B1G games of 2013: No. 8

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
3:30
PM ET
We're continuing our countdown of the Top 10 games from the Big Ten in 2013. Remember that we're taking into account the stakes in the game, the excitement level, the quality of the performances and the atmosphere.

This next one was a great game, marred by a horrible officiating gaffe at the end ...

[+] EnlargeJoel Stave
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesArizona State beat Wisconsin in a well-played game that was botched by Pac-12 officials in the final minute.
No. 8: Arizona State 32, Wisconsin 30, Sept. 14

A.K.A. the Desert Debacle.

How it went down: You can't begin to talk about this game without mentioning the ending. Pac-12 officials completely botched the final 18 seconds, robbing Wisconsin of a chance to kick a potential game-winning field goal. If you don't know how that happened by now, you must have been in exile the past six months. I broke it all down here.

So why choose a game so awfully flawed for the Top 10? Well, for one, it was a well-played, exciting contest for the first 59:42. The scoring went back and forth, with Arizona State making big plays through the air and the Badgers dominating on the ground. Down eight points with 8:50 left on the road, Wisconsin very nearly pulled off the comeback win (though given the team's kicking struggles all year long, it was still no guarantee).

The controversy also meant that this game was talked about all season, especially with Arizona State winning its division in the Pac-12 and the loss hurting the Badgers' national ranking and perception. The Pac-12 reprimanded its own officials, though that was a pretty toothless move. And of course there was the whole "#karma" thing that came back to bite the Bielema family in the butt.

For better or worse, that night in Tempe will be remembered for a long time.

Player of the game: Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon introduced himself to a national audience by rushing 15 times for 193 yards and two touchdowns. If the Badgers had converted the two-point try on his touchdown with 3:53 left, the officials' mismanagement might have become an afterthought.

Stat of the game: Gordon averaged 12.9 yards per carry against Arizona State.

They said it: "When we practice that exact same scenario, with that time on the clock, we would be worried about having a kickoff coming our way," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said. “It wasn’t like it was a stressful situation to get the ball down, get it centered and spike it. No way that is a stressful play with 18 seconds left.”

More best games

No. 10: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 24
No. 9: Michigan 41, Notre Dame 30

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