MADISON, Wis. (AP)—Forget the press box. Joe Paterno could have coached this one from his living room.
A sore hip relegated Paterno to a perch high above the field for the second week in a row—and once again, not having their iconic leader on the sidelines didn’t matter to No. 6 Penn State.
Daryll Clark threw for a touchdown and ran for two more scores, Derrick Williams ran a punt back for a touchdown and cornerback Lydell Sargeant had two interceptions off of two quarterbacks as the Nittany Lions (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) dismantled Wisconsin 48-7 Saturday night.
For Penn State, it was another strong statement, asserting its place among the nation’s top teams.
“We certainly deserve to be considered,” Paterno said.
And while Paterno doesn’t necessarily like the unique perspective he has had for his last two victories, he said there is an upside to coaching from up top.
“I was afraid somebody was going to come around and ask me for my ticket,” joked Paterno, who just started walking with a cane. “It’s not fun. But I think I can help the team more up there.”
It is Penn State’s 11th 7-0 start and first since 1999.
“This was a statement game for us,” Clark said. “People still don’t believe we can do this.”
It also was a statement game of sorts for Wisconsin (3-3, 0-3), which went into the season as a potential Big Ten title contender but began conference play by blowing chances to beat Michigan and Ohio State.
After Saturday’s thumping, the Badgers had to reach back to 1989—the Don Morton coaching era—to find a more lopsided loss.
“It kind of puts a sickening taste in your mouth,” linebacker DeAndre Levy said.
It was the second straight home loss for the Badgers, and the first time they’d opened conference play with three losses since 2002.
The collapse came a little earlier against Penn State than it did against the Buckeyes and Wolverines.
With the Badgers trailing 17-7 and pinned deep in their own territory just before halftime, quarterback Allan Evridge was sacked and stripped of the ball, sending it scooting across the turf. It was scooped up by middle linebacker Josh Hull and Penn State took possession at the 16.
Wisconsin cornerback Allen Langford then was called for pass interference, and Clark scored on first-and-goal from the 2 to put Penn State ahead 24-7 at halftime.
“There’s obviously a lot of pain going into everybody,” said Evridge, who faces the prospect of losing his starting job after being replaced in the second half. “It’s not fun coming off a huge loss like that. Those guys just played awesome and whooped us all the way across the board.”
But Paterno said the key play came earlier in the second quarter, a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown by Williams that put Penn State up 17-0. It was the fifth touchdown off a punt or kickoff return of Williams’ career, the most for a Penn State player under Paterno.
Clark carved up the Badgers’ defense on the first drive of the second half, then scored on a 4-yard scramble. Clark took to the air again on Penn State’s next possession, throwing a 44-yard pass to wide-open Deon Butler to go ahead 38-7.
Badgers coach Bret Bielema, speaking softly with an obviously hoarse throat, seemed surprised that his team didn’t fare better.
“I think Penn State’s a very good football team,” Bielema said. “I thought that all week.”
At least the Badgers had their marching band back this week. The band was suspended for last week’s loss to Ohio State in connection with a hazing scandal.
After going 2-for-10 for 50 yards passing, Evridge was replaced by Dustin Sherer with 3:15 left in the third quarter. Sherer put together a drive—only to throw an interception to Sargeant, who picked off Evridge earlier in the quarter.
“I think the quarterback has to play a lot better in certain situations, whoever that’s going to be,” Bielema said.
It all was witnessed from on high by the 81-year-old Paterno, who had to move upstairs for the Nittany Lions’ win last week over Purdue because of the injury. Paterno also coached from the press box for a portion of Penn State’s game against Temple earlier in the season.
“I can talk to all of the coaches,” Paterno said of coaching upstairs. “I think I’ve watched more film since I got hurt than ever before. So maybe now I can suggest some plays and once in a while, I’m right.”
Paterno was injured at practice the week before the season opener when he was demonstrating an onside kick.
Coincidentally, Paterno also was injured the last time the Nittany Lions visited Camp Randall. Paterno tore ligaments in his left knee in a sideline collision with a player at Wisconsin in 2006.
The Nittany Lions lost that game. With their coach safely tucked away, the Lions was the one dealing out the pain on this trip to Madison.