Las Vegas Bowl 2021: Wisconsin Beats Arizona State in Low-Scoring Affair

David Stepanian
Photo: USA Today

Three years after they first announced it, the Las Vegas Bowl finally hit Allegiant Stadium and the result was the lowest scoring game in over a decade as the Wisconsin Badgers handled the Arizona State Sun Devils 20-13. It appeared to be heading towards a blowout as the 8-point favorites took a 20-6 lead at halftime, but the Sun Devils made things interesting when Daniyel Ngata punched it in for a touchdown from within the 10 yard line in the third quarter.

The Badgers would get shutout in the second half but they were able to burn the final 9:57 of the fourth quarter on a 90-yard drive, highlighted by a 3rd-and-12 conversion from Graham Mertz to Chimere Dike. Freshman standout from Wisconsin Braelon Allen led all players with 159 yards on 29 carries. A noticeable amount of Wisconsin fans booed the decision to kneel the ball instead of kicking a field goal as time expired, preventing Wisconsin from covering the 8 point spread.

The turnout was less than stellar also. 32,515 fans were in attendance, which is the second lowest for the Las Vegas Bowl in the last fifteen years. The main culprit might not be the virus, but extremely high room rates as the bowl game is traditionally played in the middle of December rather than New Year’s Weekend. This was also the first meeting between the Pac-12 and Big Ten for this bowl game, as it normally hosted geographically closer Mountain West teams.

Herm Edwards talked about the move to Allegiant Stadium, having also played the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium in 2018, “The difference between our first time here and this year is like night and day. We were excited to come here and check the place out. For a big time bowl game, there’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes to make it work, and they did a fantastic job.”

Despite the low turnout, officials had to be pleased the game was able to kickoff after a slew of cancellations during the bowl season. It’s apparent that moving the game to Allegiant Stadium will attract more high-profile teams like Wisconsin and their fans to visit Las Vegas for years to come.