Florida State has lost so many players already this year, one more barely causes a ripple. Even when it's leading tackler A. J. Nicholson, and the Orange...

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MIAMI — Florida State has lost so many players already this year, one more barely causes a ripple.

Even when it’s leading tackler A.J. Nicholson, and the Orange Bowl is only a few days away.

A day after the linebacker was sent home amid sexual assault allegations, the Seminoles were back at work Friday, retooling their lineup to fill yet another hole.

“It’s out of everybody’s hands. Things you can’t control, you don’t worry about,” linebacker Buster Davis said. “We have to move on no matter what.”

The investigation into the allegations continued Friday. A decision on whether to charge Nicholson isn’t expected until the investigation wraps up sometime next week. No. 22 Florida State plays third-ranked Penn State on Tuesday night.

The Seminoles have had plenty of practice at adjusting on the fly this season. Nicholson, who led the team with 100 tackles, is the seventh starter that Florida State has lost this season.

All-American cornerback Antonio Cromartie was the first to go down, suffering a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. Cornerback Gerard Ross is also out with a knee injury, and linebacker Marcello Church broke his leg in the ACC championship game. Offensive linemen Cory Niblock, Matt Meinrod and John Frady also are out with injuries.

“Now you unplug another outstanding player, a guy that was our leading tackler,” Seminoles defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said. “He is not there, and someone has to step up and take his place. That’s not being careless, it is just that coach [Bobby] Bowden has a way of treating facts as facts.”

Davis will likely move from the middle to the weakside to replace Nicholson.

USC cans trash talk

LOS ANGELES — Sly smiles emerge whenever USC players hear what their Texas counterparts have to say.

But the Trojans have been trained to resist the urge to heap more trash into the talk about Wednesday’s Rose Bowl.

Texas quarterback Vince Young’s assessment that the Longhorns have “gangster” players compared to the Trojans’ past opponents barely drew a reaction, and his half-hearted victory guarantee caused curiosity, not confrontation.

Defensive tackle Rodrique Wright is Texas’ biggest talker on the other side of the ball and has discussed everything from plans to “dominate” the Trojans to the trouble the Longhorns defense can cause USC’s top-ranked offense.

“A lot of people say we haven’t seen an offense like USC,” Wright said in an early news conference. “They haven’t seen a defense like UT.”

But the Trojans have only revealed grins and respect in response to the Longhorns.

“We believe that we’re the best. They believe that they’re the best,” said right guard Fred Matua said. “What we say over here is, ‘The fourth shall set us free. The truth will be told.’ “


• The CEO of MPC Computers apologized to Boston College defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka on Thursday for making fun of his name during a banquet before the Eagles’ bowl game against Boise State.

At a banquet Monday night before the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho, Mike Adkins read a list of the top 10 things Boise and Boston have in common, including, “No one in either city can properly pronounce Mathias Kiwanuka.” Adkins mispronounced Kiwanuka’s name in the punchline and some Boston College players said later they found the joke insulting and disrespectful.

Kiwanuka is the grandson of Uganda’s first prime minister, assassinated by mass-murdering dictator Idi Amin. Adkins apologized to Kiwanuka in a statement Thursday.

• Twice demoted behind Troy Smith after he began 2004 as the starter, Ohio State QB Justin Zwick quelled rumors he will transfer.

“I’ll be at [OSU],” Zwick said during media day activities at the site of Monday’s Fiesta Bowl clash with Notre Dame. “I’m on track to graduate at the end of next fall, so I’m working toward that. Why shuffle all of that around?”

Zwick was speaking to reporters for the first time since his last start — a 25-22 loss to Texas in the second week of the season.