BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Pre-game injury news Saturday couldn’t have turned out more favorable for the University of Wisconsin, with running back Jonathan Taylor (left leg), wide receiver Quintez Cephus (head) and safety D’Cota Dixon (right leg) returning after being listed as questionable all week.
By day’s end, however, the Badgers were once again without three key starters.
Cephus (right leg), Dixon (right leg) and inside linebacker Chris Orr (left leg) all left UW’s 45-17 win at Indiana and did not return.
“I talked to every one of them, but I didn’t … see what’s going on there,” UW coach Paul Chryst said after the game. "I’m sure you’ll get it (Monday) on the (injury) report."
The injuries to Cephus and Orr appeared particularly concerning.
Orr, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last season, fell to the ground in pain after trying to make a tackle in the first quarter. Cephus’ leg got caught under right guard Beau Benzschawel with 11 minutes, 1 second left in the third quarter. Both players were helped off the field without putting weight on their injured legs.
“It’s frustrating,” UW cornerback Derrick Tindal said. "I’m mad at the fact that, dang, man, they were playing so great, both Quintez and Chris. It’s just kind of sad to see someone you work with in practice every day (get injured). … Guys just have to step up and play (in their place)."
Nelson, Tindal criticize interference calls
Officials flagged UW cornerback Nick Nelson for three pass interference penalties Saturday.
Two came within a three-play span on a field-goal drive that put Indiana up 10-0 early in the second quarter. The other was declined late in the third quarter because Simmie Cobbs Jr. caught a 17-yard touchdown pass despite the interference call.
“They were some bad calls,” Nelson said. "If you watch it, his hand was on me. I’m not about to just let him push me. … The thing is, receivers like to push, so I’m not fixing to let you push me. Most of the time, the ref will let us hand fight."
Tindal said he also disagreed with the first two interference calls and praised Nelson for his play.
“They were bull,” he said. "The first two were definitely bull. … I feel like (Nelson) played a great game. They’re going to keep trying him, and he’s going to keep stepping up to the task."
Critical review goes UW’s way
One call that did go UW’s way came after a video review and helped the Badgers dig themselves out of an early hole.
With 7:02 left in the second quarter, outside linebacker Tyler Johnson ripped the ball away from Indiana running back Morgan Ellison just before he touched the ground, and after a scramble for the ball, Badgers safety Joe Ferguson recovered.
Ellison was initially ruled down, but after review, officials overturned the call and stated UW had gained a clear recovery despite the play being blown dead.
“The big thing was a whistle was blown,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. "That became the issue, but apparently they said it wasn’t blown. So that’s all I was told. That’s all I know."
Two plays later, UW quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw an 8-yard touchdown to Cephus that gave the Badgers a 14-10 lead.
“The takeaway is huge, but I think it’s really important what you do with it,” Chryst said. "I think that’s where I thought the offense was able to take advantage of that good field position."
Tindal returns kickoffs
Tindal handled kickoff return duties Saturday, something he joked he’s been asking to do “since I stepped on campus.”
Tindal took the place of A.J. Taylor, who averaged 23.92 yards on 12 returns this season and fumbled twice, both of which were recovered by UW.
Tindal totaled 80 yards on three returns Saturday, including a 39-yarder late in the third quarter after Indiana had cut the Badgers’ lead to 24-17.
“It was the first time being back there since my senior year of high school,” Tindal said. "I’ve got a couple things to work on, but I feel pretty good about what I did back there today. We’re going to clean it up a little more.
"Once I get my flow, people are going to be in trouble. That’s all I’ve got to say."
Connor Allen took over for Anthony Lotti as UW’s starting punter Saturday, averaging 40.7 yards on three punts, including a 30-yard kick that went out of bounds at the Indiana 10-yard line. Lotti still punted once for 37 yards. … Defensive end Chikwe Obasih said he’s “getting” to 100 percent and hopes to be “full-go” next week against Iowa. He missed six games with a left leg injury before returning last week at Illinois.