In front of a raucous crowd, which included a packed and blacked-out student section, ASU went 72 yards in 13 plays in just under five minutes in its first drive of the game.
However, a fourth and goal attempt at the end of the drive failed as redshirt junior quarterback Taylor Kelly tried to hit redshirt sophomore wide receiver Kevin Ozier as he fell out of bounds juggling the ball.
Though the Sun Devils did not score, the risk didn’t prove too costly as the Badgers went three-and-out and had a near interception on third down, when sophomore quarterback Joel Stave threw the ball up for grabs while getting hit by redshirt senior defensive tackle Will Sutton.
Several three-and-outs later, the Sun Devils put together an eight-play, 34-yard drive that lasted almost three minutes and ended in a 34 yard field goal from freshman kicker Zane Gonzalez putting the Sun Devils up 3-0.
The Sun Devil defense proved early on that they could stop the Badger running game, so Wisconsin was forced to turn to the pass. It worked in their favor as Stave ended up moving the chains on several short passes, including an impressive shovel pass on third down and eight to senior running back James White.
The second quarter was a different story as Wisconsin came out and ran two rushing plays for 19-yards each. The rushes set up a 2-yard Stave touchdown pass to senior tight end Jacob Pederson, putting the Badgers on top 7-3 less than two minutes in to the quarter.
After another three-and-out, ASU was forced to punt, but junior punter Dom Vizzare could not handle a bad snap by sophomore long snapper Easton Wahlstrom.
The ball went over Vizzare’s head and he failed to cover it on the goal line so Wisconsin senior defensive lineman Beau Allen fell on it in the end zone putting the Badger’s ahead 14-3 with just over 12 minutes left in the quarter.
The Sun Devils countered with a lightning fast 3:32, 75-yard, 10-play drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Marion Grice. Kelly went 5-for-5 passing and had 60 yards on the drive.
Wisconsin came right back with a 30-yard first down run by sophomore running back Melvin Gordon, but could not capitalize and ended up punting after Stave was drilled by redshirt spur linebacker Anthony Jones on third down.
Both defenses buckled down and forced back-to-back punts, but with 5:25 left in the half, ASU started a drive on its own 5-yard line that would prove to cut the deficit at halftime.
Kelly passed for 40 yards on the 13-play, 94-yard drive, while sophomore running back D.J. Foster had a 15- yard run, but it was two pass interference penalties called on Wisconsin that put ASU on the 5-yard line.
The Sun Devils were forced to settle for a 19-yard Gonzalez field goal, though, and the score at halftime is 14-13 in favor of Wisconsin.