#2 Penn St. 59, Michigan St. 31

The chant started long before the end of Penn State's 59-31 victory over Michigan State.

It started in the student section about eight minutes before Ki-Jana Carter iced the game with his fifth touchdown.

"We're No. 1! We're No. 1!"

Joe Paterno may stay out of the debate that will dominate college football from now until Jan. 2 and maybe longer, but the Penn State fans jumped into it.

"I think we're a great football team," Paterno said. "I leave it up to you guys to tell the people how great."

Second-ranked Penn State (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten) finished the regular season with an unblemished record for the seventh time in Paterno's coaching career.

The Nittany Lions are headed to the Rose Bowl to play Oregon, while top-ranked Nebraska (11-0) will play in the Orange Bowl. No. 3 Alabama (11-0) will go to the Sugar Bowl if it beats Florida next Saturday for the Southeastern Conference championship.

"Nebraska's got a tough game to play, we've got a tough game to play and Alabama's got two tough games to play. A lot can happen," Paterno said. "But it's hard for me to believe that anybody can beat us."

Quarterback Kerry Collins said Penn State would probably need some help to win the national title.

"I think it's Nebraska's to lose right now, that's just the nature of the polls," he said.

Carter used the victory over Michigan State (5-6, 4-4) to make one final statement to Heisman Trophy voters. He ran for five touchdowns and 227 yards on 27 carries.

His fifth touchdown came on a 50-yard run with 4:44 remaining.

"They told me I needed 23 yards to get 200, so I asked if I could stay in for one more series, and I just broke one," said Carter, who set a school record with his ninth 100-yard game of the season.

The loss was the last game for Michigan State coach George Perles, who was forced to resign after 12 seasons with the Spartans.

"You have to work at anything you do, and I'm going to work on having no bitterness, no envy, no jealousy and none of those bad things... I'm going to shut them off," Perles said.

Michigan State used short passes and running back tandem of Duane Goulbourne and Scott Greene to move the ball against the banged-up Penn State defense. The Spartans gained 417 yards and got a 100-yard kick return by Derrick Mason.

But Penn State had an answer for each Spartan score, and Carter controlled the second half scoring three times in 14 minutes.

Mason caught a 31-yard touchdown pass on Michigan State's first possession to give the Spartans a 7-0 lead.

Penn State came back with a 7-yard score by Carter. On Penn State's next possession, tailback Mike Archie hit Bobby Engram with a long pass and Engram made two defenders miss on a 55-yard score to make it 14-7.

On the ensuing kickoff, Mason got behind a wall of blockers and faked out kicker Brett Conway on a 100-yard score that tied the game.

Penn State drove right back down the field and scored on Brian Milne's 1-yard dive.

After a Penn State field goal, Michigan State used Goulbourne and Greene to set up Chris Gardner's 23-yard field goal to cut the lead to 24-17 at the half.

Then Carter took over. He scored his fourth touchdown with 14:32 remaining to give Penn State a 45-24 cushion.

One play after a Michigan State fumble, Collins lobbed a long pass to Freddie Scott, who caught it on the run for a 56-yard touchdown to make it 52-24.