On 4th-and-10 from midfield at the end of the game, the USC Trojans desperately needed a Hail Mary completion for a game-winning touchdown. Instead, senior quarterback Cody Kessler threw a short out that would have been shy of the first-down marker even had it been caught.
In a cruel way, it was the perfect ending to a USC season that had such high expectations but fell woefully short.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, played a sterling all-around game and hung on for a dramatic, 23-21 win in the Holiday Bowl.
The Trojans finished the year 8-6, and first-year coach Clay Helton, who'd just had the "interim" tag removed from his name, finished with a 5-4 record after replacing fired Steve Sarkisian.
The Badgers earned their 10th win with a blueprint of how they'd been successful all year. Strong, grown-man defense and a ball-control offense that executed the run game and mixed in some strong play-action passing gave Wisconsin just enough juice to win.
Though the Badgers led throughout the game, they fell behind 21-20 in the fourth quarter. But battered-and-bloody senior quarterback Joel Stave returned from a kick to the nose to calmly lead his team down the field for the go-ahead touchdown to seal the win.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Jack Cichy was a one-man wrecking crew on defense, sacking Kessler three times in the second half and forcing an interception on the penultimate drive to help his team get a big season-ending win.