Joel Stave stumbled as he kneeled, plopped the ball on the turf, and hopped up like he had just completed a magic act.
The illusion left everyone confused.
Trying to set his team up for the winning field goal, Wisconsin’s quarterback instead triggered a wave of confusion that lingered long after Arizona State’s 32-30 win over the Badgers Saturday night in Tempe, Ariz.
The win moved the Sun Devils into Sunday’s Associated Press rankings at No. 23; Wisconsin dropped from No. 20 to No. 24.
‘‘I’ve seen some things tonight I haven’t seen,’’ Arizona State coach Todd Graham said after the game.
Not many people have.
The final sequence was set up when Wisconsin forced Arizona State to punt and got the ball at its 17-yard line with 1:36 left. Trailing by 2, the Badgers quickly moved down the field, reaching the Sun Devils’ 13 with 18 seconds left.
Hoping to set up kicker Kyle French in the middle of the field for a potential winning field goal, Wisconsin called for Stave to run left from the right hash mark and take a knee, but as Stave went to kneel, he was clipped by one of his linemen and went down awkwardly as he emphatically placed the ball on the 15-yard line. Players from both teams stood around for a few seconds, trying to figure out what happened.
Stave checked with the referee to make sure the play was dead, but Arizona State’s players piled on the ball, thinking it was a fumble. Realizing the clock was still running, the Badgers tried to line up with two seconds left to spike the ball, but couldn’t get a play off in time.
After gathering briefly on the field, the officials trotted off past Stave, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, and the rest of the stunned Badgers.
‘‘It was a shame it went down the way it went down at the end and that’s really all I want to say about it,’’ Andersen said. ‘‘It is a shame it went down that way. We [kneel] with 15 seconds left and never even got a chance to snap it again. I don’t know how that happens.’’
Even after the Sun Devils were pulled off the ball, one of the officials briefly held the Badgers at the line of scrimmage before they could snap the ball, costing them even more time.
After the play, Stave tried to grab one of the officials running off the field, but he kept going, and Andersen said he got no response after asking for an explanation.
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said Sunday that the school got confirmation that from Big Ten officials supervisor Bill Carollo that Pac-12 officials handled the situation in an incorrect manner.
In an e-mail, Pac-12 spokesman Erik Hardenbergh said the league reviews calls each Monday.
Clowney will need surgery
South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney said after South Carolina’s 35-25 win over Vanderbilt Saturday he plans to undergo a procedure on his right foot for bone spurs — a problem that he has dealt with for years but has bothered him more and more recently.
“I’m going to get it cleaned out after the season’s over with,” Clowney told the Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald Journal.
Clowney said the foot “builds up pain,” but only troubles him when he’s playing.
After making headlines with a dominant 2012 (23½ tackles for loss and 13 sacks), Clowney has 10 total tackles and two sacks through three games this season. He forced a fumble Saturday.
High marks for A&M-Alabama
Alabama’s wild 49-42 win at Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel drew the highest preliminary television rating for an afternoon regular-season college football game on CBS in 23 years. The game earned a 9.0 overnight rating and 21 share. The network said that was the best since a 10.1 for Miami-Notre Dame on Oct. 20, 1990. Manziel threw for a career-high 464 yards and gained 562 total yards, the second-best performance in Southeastern Conference history. Aggies receiver Mike Evans was almost as impressive. The 6-foot-5-inch, 225-pound sophomore caught seven passes for a school-record 279 yards . . . B.J. Denker ran for two touchdowns and passed for another, leading host Arizona (3-0) past outmatched Texas-San Antonio (1-2) by a score of 38-13 late Saturday night.
A step backward at Michigan
Michigan’s penalty for needing a last-second goal-line stand to beat Akron, 28-24, was falling four spots to No. 15. The Zips have not beaten an FBS team since 2010, and have not won on the road in 28 games. “We almost lost to Akron, no disrespect to Akron,’’ said Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, who had four turnovers ‘‘This is embarrassing for the University of Michigan football team,’’ offensive tackle Taylor Lewan said . . . Nebraska’s latest humbling loss — 41-21 at home to UCLA — dropped the Cornhuskers from No. 23 to out of the rankings . . . Texas A&M’s loss to Alabama dropped the Aggies four spots to No. 10 . . . Texas Tech knocked No. 24 Texas Christian from the rankings and debuted at No. 25 after a 20-10 home win over the Horned Frogs . . . Mike Dunbar, who was offensive coordinator at UMass from 1984-86 and most recently served as Northern Illinois’s offensive coordinator, died following a battle with cancer. He was 64. Dunbar coached for 36 years, serving as head coach at Central Washington (1983, 1987-91) and Northern Iowa (1997-2000).