Wisconsin running back Chez Mellusi had to be carted off the field with an apparent leg or ankle injury in the fourth quarter of the Badgers’ 38-17 win over Purdue on Friday night. The senior transfer from Clemson was having a solid season for Wisconsin, but his injury could be a major blow for the team’s offense.
Mellusi’s injury occurred on a tackle
Mellusi was tackled for a one-yard loss by Purdue linebacker Jalen Graham with 6:37 left in the game. He immediately grabbed his lower leg in pain and was surrounded by medical staff. An air cast was applied to his leg and he was taken away on a cart. The entire Badgers team came out to show their support for Mellusi, who waved to the crowd as he left the field
Mellusi was Wisconsin’s leading rusher
Mellusi had 11 carries for 35 yards before his injury, and was Wisconsin’s leading rusher on the season with 293 yards and four touchdowns on 51 attempts. He had a career-high 157 yards and a 89-yard touchdown run in the season opener against Buffalo. He also had two touchdowns against Washington State in Wisconsin’s only loss of the season
Mellusi transferred to Wisconsin from Clemson, where he played for two seasons and rushed for 427 yards and six touchdowns on 71 carries. He was a four-star recruit out of Naples, Florida, and chose Wisconsin over other offers from Notre Dame, Michigan, and Florida State
Wisconsin’s offense relied heavily on the running game
Wisconsin’s offense was led by quarterback Tanner Mordecai, who threw for 174 yards and a touchdown on 16-of-24 passing, and also ran for two scores. However, the Badgers relied heavily on their running game, which accounted for 221 yards and three touchdowns on 49 carries. Wisconsin had three scoring drives of more than 10 plays, and controlled the time of possession by more than 13 minutes
Wisconsin’s running game also featured freshman Braelon Allen, who had 12 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown, and sophomore Jalen Berger, who had nine carries for 33 yards. Allen had a 32-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave Wisconsin a 24-10 lead. Berger, who missed the first three games of the season due to COVID-19 protocols, made his season debut against Purdue
Wisconsin improved to 3-1 and 1-0 in the Big Ten
Wisconsin’s win over Purdue improved its record to 3-1 and 1-0 in the Big Ten West division. The Badgers are ranked No. 18 in the AP poll and No. 19 in the Coaches poll. Wisconsin’s only loss came against No. 21 Washington State, 31-28, in Week 2
Purdue fell to 2-2 and 0-1 in the Big Ten West. The Boilermakers were led by quarterback Hudson Card, who threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns on 22-of-36 passing, but also had two interceptions. Purdue’s leading receiver was David Bell, who had eight catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Wisconsin will face Michigan next week in a crucial Big Ten matchup. Purdue will try to bounce back against Minnesota.