The Wisconsin Badgers comfortably defeated the Purdue Boilermakers 38-17 to start Big Ten play with a win, improving to 3-1 on the season, but all wasn't good news, as running back Chez Mellusi suffered a gruesome injury in the fourth quarter on a carry that required him to be carted off.
Mellusi, who has rushed for 307 yards on 51 carries for the season, was greeted by his teammates as he left the field in an emotional moment that could have season-ending repercussions.
What’s the latest with Mellusi’s status?
Head coach Luke Fickell was non-committal after the game, noting that the injury obviously didn't look good and that Mellusi was taken for X-rays.
“Yeah, I don’t know exactly what the deal is. I don’t know that it looks good,” Fickell said.
It made the victory more powerful for the Badgers, as Fickell coined Mellusi as the heart and soul of some of the things that Wisconsin does.
“They’re hurting in there. If we lose him for a while, it’ll be tough,” Fickell said. “He’s not just a great football player for us, he’s not just a great tailback. He’s [also] the heart and soul of some of the things that we do. And because of all the things he’s gone through, all the ups and downs and the injuries, and to have the attitude that he has, he’s a big part.”
The running back has battled unfortunate injuries throughout his career, but had looked stronger and faster to begin the season, which he himself acknowledged after Wisconsin’s Week 1 victory.
Fickell wasn't ready to close the door yet, adding that Mellusi would be a significant portion of the Badgers’ formula if he could return, although that possibility looks uncertain at the moment.
“If he can play for a while, he’ll still be a really big part of what it is that we do.”
Regardless, it’s a crushing moment for the Badgers, who will undoubtedly be without their star tailback for a few weeks, if not the full season, placing an even bigger emphasis on the rest of the players in the running back room.