Ohio State officials chasing gold pants mystery
Michigan's(national championship hopes died on the West Coast during two of the past three seasons. The third-ranked Wolverines play at No. 22 Oregon (3-0) on Saturday.
The Wolverines lost 23-20 at UCLA in 2000 and 23-18 at Washington in 2001, with current quarterback John Navarre. Even though both of those Michigan teams lost later in Big Ten play, each of those nonconference losses was a blow.
Michigan's last win out West was in the 1998 Rose Bowl against Washington State, and its last regular-season victory was at UCLA in 1989.
"We have not won on the West Coast since I have been here, and that's something we have in the back of our minds," fifth-year senior defensive back Jeremy LeSueur said.
"This is a new season and a new team. This team has one goal: to go undefeated and win the (national) championship. We take every game we play as a championship game. That's what we did with Notre Dame, and that's what we'll do with this game."
ANTI-SMOKER CAMPAIGN: If Michigan State starting quarterback Jeff Smoker plays at Notre Dame on Saturday, it will be his first road game since returning from a substance-abuse problem. Coach John L. Smith said the quarterback may hear taunts and jeers.
"It's something he has to accept, overcome and live with," Smith said.
Smoker may not have to deal with the abuse because of a toe injury.
"It's kind of funny, because it doesn't sound too bad," Smoker said after riding a stationary bike throughout practice. "Everybody kind of laughs at me because I injured my toe. But it really hurts. And you don't realize how much you use your big toe. It's your balance and your stability for all your weight."
If Smoker can't go, redshirt freshman Drew Stanton will make his first career start. He has never thrown a collegiate pass.
LIONS AND ZEBRAS: Penn State coach Joe Paterno believes that questionable calls have contributed to five of his team's last seven losses.
"We got a series of lousy bad breaks, if you want to call it that, in some tough games that we have lost where we are one play away from making it. That is the third or fourth call now that we have had that was very, very debatable," Paterno said. "We are going with a little hard luck right now, but that will go away and it will all change. That is life."
QUICK-HITTERS: Iowa's top receiver, Maurice Brown, will be out for at least four weeks with a sprained right ankle. Of the 31 passes the Hawkeyes have completed, Brown has caught 14 and no other player has more than three. ... The Big Ten is 22-10 out of conference this season, including 1-2 against both the Pac-10 and Mountain West. ... Michigan, which leads the country in scoring defense, has beaten Notre Dame, Houston and Central Michigan by a combined score of 133-10. ... Iowa's Ramon Ochoa leads the nation in punt returns (26.8 yards a game), Michigan's Chris Perry is No. 1 in rushing (183.8 ypg) and Minnesota's Marion Barber III shares the national lead in scoring (16 ppg).