News and notes

n Just when Michigan State coach Bobby Williams thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. His Spartans, playing without starting quarterback Jeff Smoker – who is suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules – lost their third straight game and fifth out of six.

In Michigan State’s second consecutive blowout loss at home, this time in the form of a 42-24 drubbing by Wisconsin, Williams once again heard “Fire Bobby” chants resonate throughout the student section. To make matters worse, Williams lost his backup quarterback, Damon Dowdell, as Dowdell sprained his right ankle with less than six minutes left in the game.

n Ohio State’s freshman sensation, tailback Maurice Clarett, injured his left shoulder six plays into the Buckeyes’ victory over Penn State on Saturday and did not return. Clarett, who had averaged 140 yards per game, rushed for 39 yards in limited action to bring his impressive total to 1,019 yards in just seven full games.

“I can’t tell you if it’s a one-day thing or a five-day thing,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said of Clarett’s injury.

n Alabama can’t go to a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions, but the Crimson Tide sure had fun contributing to the misery of rival Tennessee.

Alabama’s first victory over the Volunteers since 1994 also marked the first time in Tennessee school history that the Volunteers lost to rivals Florida, Alabama and Georgia in the same year.

To add insult to injury, Tennessee receiver Kelley Washington was kept out of Saturday night’s game due to a head injury he suffered two weeks ago.

Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said after the Alabama game the decision was made Friday because only 95 percent of Washington’s symptoms had cleared.

“We didn’t want to risk it,” Fulmer said.

n Nebraska snapped a five-game road losing streak Saturday when it knocked off Texas A&M at Kyle Field, 38-31. The Cornhuskers hadn’t lost five in a row on the road since 1958.

What they’re saying

n After his Nittany Lions suffered yet another heart-breaking loss in the Big Ten – this time to No. 4 Ohio State – legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno had some flattering words to say about the Buckeyes.

“They’re the best team we’ve played,” Paterno said. “It’d be close between them and Iowa. Do they play Iowa? That would be a pretty good game.”

Not only did Paterno neglect to mention Michigan (who beat Penn State in overtime, just like Iowa did) among the top Big Ten teams, he ignited curiosity in a matchup between Iowa and Ohio State that won’t happen this year. Due to the revolving Big Ten schedule, the current top two teams in the conference won’t knock heads this year.

n Despite trailing by five points at halftime on the road against No. 14 Oregon, Southern Cal. quarterback Carson Palmer was extremely confident in the Trojans’ ability to come back.

“We knew they couldn’t stop us offensively and they didn’t stop us offensively,” said Palmer, whose Trojans beat Oregon 44-33. “The feeling in the locker room was that we were going to blow it out.”

n A frustrated Texas tailback Cedric Benson said his Longhorns had enough of the criticism of not being a top-caliber team.

“We were tired of playing like we weren’t a top team,” said Benson, who had 45 carries for 113 yards in the previous two games while playing with a nagging turf toe injury.

“It started to make some guys sick.”

Staff and wire reports contributed to this report.

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