(News4usonline) – The treat for the more than 32,000 people who attended the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl was watching two teams launch great defensive efforts.
Arizona State kept Wisconsin off the scoreboard for the entire second half of the game, played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
But for Herm Edwards’ team, it was an effort wasted as his offense was kept in check the whole night by the Badgers, who brought along their own line of defense. The Badgers also brought along freshman running back Braelon Allen with them to give the Sun Devils a dose of pound and ground offense.
As a result, the combination of Wisconsin’s defense and the downhill running of Allen proved to be too much for Arizona State to overcome and the Badgers walked away with a rugged 20-13 win.
“Certainly really proud of this group,” Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said after the game. “Tonight was a good night. It took a lot of guys to get us that victory. It’s really what this season’s been. It’s a special team because it’s made of a special group of individuals. It was a heck of a trip for us, and really the whole bowl experience.”
For the Sun Devils, a team who came into the game winning three of their last four games, it was not the conclusion to a season in which they won eight games. Although Arizona State blanked Wisconsin in the second half, the Badgers’ 14 points in the first quarter were more than enough to hand the Sun Devils their fifth (8-5) loss on the season.
Edwards lamented about his team’s performance in the first and second quarters.
“Disappointing outcome for us. We got off to a bad start, I thought,” Edwards said. “Fell behind, and you don’t want to fall behind to a team like this. They chew a lot of time off the clock with the running game. I thought the first half our gap responsibilities vs. the run weren’t sound as they were in the second half.
“I thought we were a better team in the second half. I thought the second half we really had some energy and got going offensively. We gave up four big plays in this game, and it really kind of got us.”
What really got the Sun Devils going was the running of Allen. By the time halftime rolled around, Allen had already bypassed the 100-yard rushing mark. He finished the game with 159 yards rushing on 29 carries and was voted as the Rich Abajian Most Valuable Player of the game.
This really should not come as a surprise. On the season, Allen had already rushed for 1,268 yards and 12 touchdowns and averaged 6.8 yards on the ground per play. As all good running backs do, Allen gave credit to his success on the season and against Arizona State to his teammates.
“Being able to have the season I ended up having, I can’t thank the guys enough just for the support and keeping my head on straight and keep on encouraging me, just telling me my time was going to come and just keep working. All the credit goes to the o-line and the guys in the room,” Allen stated.”
Allen is just the latest of a long line of great running backs to come from Wisconsin. The running back assembly line has produced Melvin Gordon (Denver Broncos), Montee Ball, Ron Dayne, and Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts), among others.
“They are who they are, and why wouldn’t you be, with the success that they’ve had,” Edwards bemoaned. “You’re not gonna change all of a sudden because you’re playing in a bowl game. They ran the ball like we anticipated, they cut us out of some gaps at times and made some big runs. The runner’s a fabulous player, there’s no doubt about that.”
What also worked in the Badgers’ favor was having one of the best defenses in the country. Wisconsin, playing in the Las Vegas Bowl for the time, got after Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels pretty good, sacking the Sun Devils signal-caller five times and pressuring him relentlessly on other passing attempts throughout the game.
Daniels finished the game completing just 11 of 21 passes for 159 yards and one interception.
“They’re one of the top-ranked defenses in the nation for a reason,” Daniels said. “They’re very disciplined. We knew coming into the game that the game would be won at the line of scrimmage.”
Daniels continued: “I feel like we could have done a little bit better job run blocking, getting the run going. Sometimes we get some sacks, some pressures, but at the end of the day, that’s something you gotta learn from.”
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, MLB, racial and social justice, civil rights, and HBCUs. Dennis earned a journalism degree from “The Mecca” aka Howard University. “I write on what I am passionate about.”