This browser does not support the video element.

That Justin Fields had his way with Nebraska's secondary was concerning enough.

That the NU defensive backfield lost two starters because of targeting penalties in the second half only added to the misery.

Because cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt and safety Deontai Williams were both ejected in the second half of Saturday's loss to Ohio State, both could potentially miss the first half of next week's game against Wisconsin and quarterback Graham Mertz, who only went 20-for-21 for 248 yards and five touchdowns for the Badgers on Friday night.



"I’m not going to say anything now other than on the field it looked to me like Deontai hit him in the chest with this shoulder. But that’s just me seeing it live in the stadium big screen," Nebraska coach Scott Frost said of the two plays and whether there could be potential to get either player back for the full game against Wisconsin. "Hopefully we can have some discussions about that. We’ll see where that goes.

"We’ve got to play smart as a team. The other one certainly wasn’t violent, but it was a dumb play and we need to fix those things."

Taylor-Britt was ejected first early in the second half after a hit on Ohio State running back Steele Chambers. Taylor-Britt appeared to lower his head on a glancing blow to Chambers at the end of a long run in Ohio State territory.

A junior, Taylor-Britt immediately put his hands in the air before leaving the field. Television cameras showed an emotional Taylor-Britt on the sideline after he had been ejected.

Williams' hit, on Buckeyes receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, was much more violent than Taylor-Britt's. But Williams also appeared to avoid Smith-Njigba's head.

It was probably easier to do so in a win, but Ohio State coach Ryan Day was sympathetic to NU losing both players.

"I know Scott and I know the guys on the defensive staff and I know that they would never teach that. There's some tough spots in there," Day said. "We certainly know and understand it from last year, we had our own share, but when it's going fast, you're trying to make decisions on how to get a guy down, it's hard.

"I'd be shocked if there was any (malicious intent) there. But at the same time you understand you've got the protect the players and that's part of this right now, which isn't easy at times."

Correct or not, the portion of Nebraska's defense many considered a strength prior to the season is now down two starters.

A third key player, linebacker JoJo Domann, was also called for targeting before that call was reversed.

This browser does not support the video element.

"We got to be physical when it’s time to be physical, in the box particularly. And then we’ve got to be smart when it’s hits outside the box like that on defenseless receivers — keeping our head up, using our shoulders, just being smart about that," Domann said. "It’s tough when bullets are flying, but we’re football players and we can do that."

Now, Nebraska has to find a way to maintain physicality while toeing the line against going too far. And the Huskers will have to do it against a Wisconsin team always among the most physical in the Big Ten.

"Things that we need to work on is not beating ourselves with penalties," linebacker Collin Miller said. "Penalties is what can kill the game, so we've got to focus on penalties. Wisconsin is a physical team, too, so just got to keep that physicality up."