Coaches left ecstatic, angry and baffled following weird Big Ten opening weekend

Madtown was sadtown, badtown or worse yet, embarrassingtown on Saturday night following Northwestern’s 47-44 double-overtime upset of the Badgers.
The loss dropped Wisconsin from sixth to 17th in the latest Associated Press poll, while the victory gave the Wildcats their second conference win since 1997.
“Defensively, that was one of the worst performances we’ve ever had,” Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said.
“We played with a lot of heart,” Wildcats second-year coach Randy Walker said.
Although Badgers fans can blame the loss on the absence of suspended stars Jamar Fletcher (cornerback) and Chris Chambers (wide receiver), they can’t blame the loss on not having Ron Dayne.
Michael Bennett, Dayne’s replacement at tailback, rushed for 293 yards on 43 carries in the game.
For Northwestern, two of the game’s heroes were honored with Big Ten player of the week awards.
Linebacker Kevin Bently was all over the place at Camp Randall Stadium. The junior had 12 tackles, one fumble return for a touchdown and a blocked extra point for the Wildcats defense.
Place-kicker Tim Long was the special teams player of the week after nailing a 46-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. The senior also had a 22-yarder and five extra points.
Wounded Lions
With a 42-6 pounding administered by Ohio State in Columbus, Penn State moved to 1-4 for the first time since 1964 — two years before Joe Paterno took over.
The Lions finished 6-4 in ’64, but with four games left against ranked teams, the feat is unlikely to be duplicated. The Buckeyes improved to 4-0 with the win and are ranked 12th in the nation.
Despite the slow start, Ohio State coach John Cooper said he thinks Penn State will turn things around.
“Penn State will be a factor in who wins the conference championship this year.” Cooper said. “They will come on and win some football games.”
Carr on fire
Illinois, the Gophers’ opponent on Saturday, gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter in a 35-31 defeat to Michigan.
The dramatic ending was not without controversy.
Two plays, both hurting the Illini, prompted the Big Ten office to make a public apology.
The first play was an Illinois fumble where the ball carrier appeared to be down before the call went the Wolverines’ way. The second was an apparent fumble by Michigan where Anthony Thomas was ruled down before the ball popped loose.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr was not happy the Big Ten issued an apology.
“I’ve made my extreme displeasure with the conference office (known) regarding their press release,” Carr said. “I stand by my comments that the game was relatively well officiated.”
Big Ten roundup
ù Purdue quarterback Drew Brees was named offensive player of the week for the second time this season after throwing for 409 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-24 win over Minnesota.
ù For the first time this season, Indiana’s defense didn’t allow 41 points in a game. Indiana won its first game of the year, 41-6 over Cincinnati.
ù Iowa’s 42-13 thumping at the heads of top-ranked Nebraska was the Hawkeyes’ 12th straight loss, tying the school record. Iowa (0-4) hasn’t gone winless in a season since 1972.
ù Michigan State moved to 3-0 with a 27-21, come-from-behind win over Notre Dame. Spartans running back D.J. Duckett is third in the country, averaging 163.7 yards on the ground per game.

John R. Carter covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]