Trojans' Victory Has Never Been Sweeter
By KEN PETERS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The USC Trojans did their part. Now they play a waitinggame.
Matt Leinart threw five touchdown passes and No. 2 Southern California beatOregon State 52-28 Saturday in the Trojans' regular-season finale.
The Trojans (11-1, 7-1 Pac-10) find out Sunday whether they will travel toNew Orleans to play for the national title in the Sugar Bowl, or stay home andplay in the Rose Bowl.
They were No. 2 in the BCS rankings this week. The top two teams in thefinal BCS rankings will meet in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.
Pac-10 champion USC already had clinched at least a spot in the Rose Bowl.
Oregon State (7-5, 4-4) will play New Mexico in the Dec. 24 Las Vegas Bowl.
The Trojans' depth and versatility on both sides of the ball were more thanthe Beavers could handle.
USC scored 40 or more points for the seventh game in a row and finished theregular season with a Pac-10 record 506 points. Leinart established aconference single-season mark with 35 touchdown passes.
Mike Williams had two touchdowns catches, one a leaping, one-handed grab inthe back of the end zone. He also got a hand on an Oregon State field-goal trythat fell short, and made a crushing block on a run by Reggie Bush.
Bush, a freshman, also caught two touchdown passes. Steve Smith, anotherfreshman, had 136 yards on five catches, including a 73-yard touchdown.
Defensively, Will Poole made two interceptions, returning one 67 yards for atouchdown, and Lofa Tatupu had USC's other two interceptions.
Leinart went 22-of-38 for 278 yards. In the first quarter, he threw hisfirst interception in two months, ending a Pac-10 record streak of 212 passeswithout being picked off. He threw another interception in the third quarter,which Brandon Browner returned 31 yards for a touchdown.
A redshirt sophomore who hadn't thrown a collegiate pass until this fall,Leinart finished the regular season with 3,229 yards passing, with 35touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Carson Palmer threw for 3,639 yards and 35TDs, with 10 interceptions last season when he won the Heisman.
Derek Anderson completed 34 of 60 for 485 yards and two touchdowns, butthrew four interceptions for the mistake-prone Beavers. Steven Jackson,averaging a conference-high 121.3 yards rushing per game, was held to 62 yardson 22 carries.
The Trojans led 28-14 at halftime, with the Beavers closing the gap onAnderson's 22-yard scoring pass to Tim Euhus six seconds before halftime to capan 80-yard drive that took only 1:02.
Oregon State got no closer in the second half.
Leinart and Williams accounted for two of the Trojans' first-halftouchdowns. Williams made his leaping catch on a 9-yard pass for a 28-7 leadwith 1:08 left in the second quarter.
In the first half, the Beavers committed three turnovers, had two fieldgoals and a punt blocked.
Poole returned an Anderson interceptions 67 yards for a second-quartertouchdown, and Leinart threw a 30-yard scoring pass to Bush after USC recovereda fumble in the first quarter.
After Anderson hooked up with Hass on a 90-yard pass play to set upJackson's 1-yard touchdown run on the Beavers' first possession, USC came backwith two TDs in a 20-second span.
Leinart capped a 70-yard drive with a 14-yard scoring pass to Williams thattied it at 7. Euhus fumbled after catching a short pass on the first play ofthe Beavers' next series, and the Trojans' Melvin Simmons recovered at the OSU30.
Leinart threw to Bush on the next play to put USC up 14-7.