Provo • The notion that teams suffer more injuries, and are beat up more, when they play bigger, better teams in college football is a myth.
But don't tell that to the BYU Cougars, who saw three starters leave Saturday's 27-17 loss to powerful Wisconsin with injuries.
The most costly was a knee injury suffered by outside linebacker Spencer Hadley on the fifth play of the game. Receiver Mitch Mathews (shoulder) and tight end Devin Mahina (groin) also left the game early with ailments.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall did not have updates on their injuries after the game and said he will provide information during his regular Monday evening press briefing. He did know that not having Hadley, especially, was painful.
Wisconsin (7-2), which moved up to No. 17 (from 21) in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday, did not kill the Cougars (6-3) with big plays, but with long, time-consuming, Wisconsin-like scoring drives of 11, 11, 11, seven and 10 plays.
"It hurt," Mendenhall said. "Spencer is one of the best players on our team, and was integral [in the game plan]. We had a substitution package that we were planning on using that was no longer possible for some of their bigger personnel sets when Spencer went out. But that's football, and we still had our opportunities to play well and win without that."
Mendenhall said "we will see" when he was asked before the game if BYU's defense was stout enough to handle Wisconsin's constant pounding. He found out it couldn't, completely, but Wisconsin's offensive balance and defensive prowess won the day as much as its rushing attack did.
Joel Stave efficiently threw for 196 yards, and the Badgers rushed for 229, about 50 below their per-game average.
"I thought the ball [carrier] made it to our secondary more than what I was hoping it would, and I don't think we tacked necessarily [well] in the secondary on a number of occasions," Mendenhall said. "If I were to say first impression, it was the ball getting to our secondary too much, and then not tackling as well in the back end as I thought we would."
Wisconsin's domination at the line of scrimmage extended to the other side of the ball as well, and the Badgers were able to contain quarterback Taysom Hill. The sophomore had more runs of 10-plus yards than any player in the country, 38, entering the game, had just two against the Badgers. The 11- and 13-yarders came on BYU's final drive.
"Going into the game, we thought we would get a [defensive] look that they didn't give us today," Hill said. "So that threw our game plan off a little bit."
Offensive coordinator Robert Anae said the offensive line "took a step forward" in the game and improved as it progressed after a terrible start.
"But any time you come away with a loss, you always feel challenged in all areas, so not looking to pinpoint any one group," Anae said. "It was us as an offense, as a whole, and we came up short tonight."
Up next for the Cougars is Idaho State, an FCS team that fell to 3-7 on Saturday with a 38-31 loss to Portland State at Holt Arena in Pocatello, giving up 539 yards of offense to the Vikings while collecting 434.
The Bengals' quarterback is Justin Arias, a junior college transfer who played for BYU offensive line coach Garett Tujague at College of the Canyons in California.
Idaho State at BYU
P Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV • BYUtv