How Would We View Wisconsin If Pac-12 Refs Hadn't Screwed Badgers at ASU?

Andrew CoppensContributor INovember 4, 2013

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 14:  Quarterback Joel Stave  #2 and running back James White #20 of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts to the a referee following a 32-30 defeat to the Arizona State Sun Devils in the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Another week, another big margin of victory for the Wisconsin Badgers as they beat the Iowa Hawkeyes 28-9 this past Saturday.

Winning big is becoming routine at this point, with an average margin of victory at 32.7 points a game.

Dominating opponents have the Badgers sitting at 6-2 on the season and No. 24 in the latest BCS rankings. 

Yet, despite the triumphs Wisconsin has had, one cannot help but remember the tragedy that was "The Debacle in the Desert" and wonder what might have been. 

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 14:  Head coach Gary Andersen of the Wisconsin Badgers reacts to the referees following a 32-30 defeat to the Arizona State Sun Devils in the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

What if the refs knew what they were doing or had the guts to come together and get the call right? 

What if quarterback Joel Stave had just handed the ball to the officials instead of setting it down? 

Those thoughts crept up once again on Sunday when the BCS rankings were unveiled and the Badgers weren't ranked in the top 25 of any of the major computer polls.

Arizona State, which officially won that game, was ranked ahead of Wisconsin—coming in at No. 22 and ranked in all but one of the computer polls. 

However, what if the rolls were reversed and it was a Badger team who had gone out to the desert and won a game against a good Arizona State team? 

How would the college football world view a team that looks like this statistically: 

Wisconsin Team Rankings
CategoryAvg./GameBig Ten RankingNational Ranking
Scoring Offense38.43rd20th
Scoring Defense152nd5th
Total Offense494.63rd18th
Total Defense286.12nd6th
Passing Offense207.67th87th
Passing Defense195.13rd15th
Rushing Offense2872nd10th
Rushing Defense913rd5th
ncaa.com and bigten.org

Those aren't numbers of a mediocre football team, those are numbers of a very good football team. 

Not many programs can say they rank inside the top 20 in all but one of those categories, and those that can are at or near the top of the polls. 

Had the calls been made right at ASU, Wisconsin would be 7-1 with only a six-point loss to the No. 4 team in the country.

And suddenly Wisconsin's resume looks a lot different, doesn't it?

The Badgers are likely not sitting on the outside of the top 20, and with all the chaos that has happened in 2013, they are likely a top-15 team at a bare minimum. 

Wisconsin would also be looking at a game with a highly talented BYU team as a chance to cap off a perfect nonconference season and boost its BCS ranking even higher this week. 

Credit the Badgers for one thing since that result at ASU: They haven't let it carry over and ruin their season. Wisconsin has gone on to win four of its last five games and has a good shot of winning out for a 10-2 season.

A lot of other teams would've let that loss linger, but Wisconsin came out focused and put away Purdue 41-10 the very next week. 

Head coach Gary Andersen has the Badgers focused on the task at hand and not on the polls, but with a resume like the Badgers have, that "Debacle in the Desert" could be the difference between a BCS bowl game and a New Year's Day trip to Florida for a very different kind of bowl game.

 

*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @ andycoppens