But it was quarterback Ben Chappell’s shortest day of the season in the Hoosiers’ 83-20 loss at No. 6 Wisconsin. The senior signal caller did not return to the game after leaving in the second quarter with a hip injury.
“Things just compounded themselves,” IU coach Bill Lynch said. “But I think when Ben went down, that certainly impacted what we could do from an offensive standpoint.”
After Wisconsin scored to take a 17-10 lead, Chappell took over. On first down, Chappell hung in the pocket and prepared to air it out to redshirt freshman receiver Duwyce Wilson.
But Wilson and Chappell were not on the same page.
Wilson cut off his route while Chappell threw it deep down the left sideline without an IU receiver in sight. The miscommunication resulted in Chappell taking a clean hit from a Wisconsin defensive lineman that drove his hip into the ground.
Chappell got up slowly but stayed in the game, determined to narrow the Hoosiers’ deficit.
Facing a fourth-and-six from the Wisconsin 33-yard line, the Hoosiers got to the line of scrimmage prepared to go for it.
But Lynch noticed that Chappell did not look like his normal self.
“I could tell he couldn’t move,” Lynch said. “He was going to go ahead and run the play. That’s the kind of kid he is. But I knew he couldn’t do it.”
Lynch called a timeout and sent out redshirt freshman kicker Mitch Ewald to attempt a 52-yard field goal. After Ewald missed, Chappell’s day was over.
For a guy that has come into Monday press conferences wearing a walking boot the last two weeks, Chappell recognized the difference in this ailment.
“I’ve played through quite a lot, and it’s pretty bad,” Chappell said. “I might have been able to play a couple more plays, but it just kept getting worse and worse.”
Redshirt freshman Edward Wright-Baker took over for Chappell on the Hoosiers’ next possession.
The players still had confidence that the game would not get out of hand without the presence of their senior captain.
“We’ve got a lot of faith in our backup quarterbacks,” junior linebacker Jeff Thomas said. “But it’s just a toll when Ben goes down.”
Wright-Baker did not get time to settle into the IU offense.
He fumbled on his first play from scrimmage, and Wisconsin recovered at the IU 29-yard line. Five rushing plays later, the Badgers scored to jump to a 24-10 lead.
In a matter of minutes, IU went from threatening to tie the score at 17 to falling to a 31-10 deficit. Just like that, the Badgers’ route was on.
After Chappell went out, the Badgers went on a 66-10 run. The Hoosiers had 86 passing yards the rest of the way, with 62 coming on a fourth-quarter touchdown to Wilson.
“When a guy gets hurt, the next guy’s got to step in,” Lynch said. “As a football team, we didn’t handle it very well.”
Lynch did not comment on the severity of Chappell’s injury, stating that he will be reevaluated when the team gets back to Bloomington.
To become bowl-eligible, the Hoosiers would need to win their final two games of the season.
For Lynch, the Hoosiers will need to adjust better if Chappell is to miss any significant time.
“The game absolutely changed when Ben came out,” Lynch said. “That’s our job not to let that happen, but it certainly changed at that point, really from that play on. It wasn’t a game anymore.”
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