UCLA Drops Decision To No. 1 USC, 29-24
Dec. 4, 2004
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - UCLA held Heisman Trophy contender Matt Leinart in check, but Reggie Bushhad two long touchdown runs, Ryan Killeen kicked five field goals and No. 1 USCheld off the Bruins 29-24 Saturday to virtually lock up a trip to the OrangeBowl for the Bowl Championship Series title game.
Moments after the game ended, USC fans in both end zones threw oranges onthe field and many players stayed on the field to celebrate.
It wasn't the Trojans' best performance, but it'll probably be enough.
The final BCS standings and bowl pairings will be announced Sunday. TheTrojans (12-0, 8-0 Pac-10) have been ranked No. 1 all season in both TheAssociated Press Top 25 and coaches polls and, most importantly, the BCSstandings.
USC was the odd team out last winter, when it finished atop both polls afterthe regular season but third in the final BCS standings. The Trojans won the APnational championship and LSU beat Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl to win the BCStitle.
The Trojans completed the fifth perfect regular season in school history andfirst since 1972, when they won the national championship. It also was USC's15th straight Pac-10 triumph and 21st consecutive win overall. The Trojans havewon 32 of their last 33 games.
Bush gained a career-high 204 yards on 15 carries - most on a 65-yardtouchdown run on the game's second play and an 81-yard dash midway through thesecond quarter.
It was just the second game in which the explosive sophomore has rushed formore than 100 yards. He also had six receptions for 73 yards.
Leinart completed his first 10 passes for 64 yards. He wound up going24-of-34 for 242 yards with one interception and no touchdowns - the first timein 25 career starts he has failed to throw at least one TD pass. USC is 24-1 ingames started by Leinart, a junior.
Pete Carroll became the first Trojans coach to beat Notre Dame and UCLA -USC's biggest rivals - in three straight seasons.
USC has beaten the Bruins six straight times - its longest winning streak inthe series, which they lead 40-27-7.
Drew Olson completed 20 of 34 passes for 278 yards and one touchdown withtwo interceptions for UCLA (6-5, 4-4), who will play in the Insight Bowl or theLas Vegas Bowl.
On Bush's first scoring run, he faked out Matt Clark near the UCLA 10-yardline before somersaulting into the end zone and spiking the ball to draw anunsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Killeen's 37-yard field goal on USC's second possession made it 10-0, and itappeared the rout was on.
Craig Bragg's school-record 96-yard punt return early in the second quartercut USC's lead to 10-7. Bragg broke Kermit Alexander's 43-year-old record bytwo yards.
The Bruins then blew an opportunity to tie or take the lead. Chris Hortonblocked Tom Malone's punt, giving UCLA the ball at the USC 19. But the Trojansheld, and Justin Medlock missed a 39-yard field goal.
Bush scored his second touchdown two plays later to give USC a 17-7 lead. Hebroke two tackles to get into the clear, and once he did, nobody was going tocatch the speedster.
UCLA drew within seven points on Medlock's 43-yard field goal, but Killeenkicked a 42-yarder with 9 seconds left before halftime and a 34-yarder midwaythrough the third period.
The Bruins responded by going 81 yards on seven plays to draw within sixpoints, scoring on Manuel White's 9-yard run. Killeen kicked a 36-yard fieldgoal early in the fourth quarter and a 34-yarder with 3:49 remaining - threeplays after Lofa Tatupu's interception - to make it 29-17.
UCLA drew within five points with 2:20 to play on Olson's 4-yard pass toMarcedes Lewis on fourth-and-2. The Bruins got one final chance when SpencerHavner recovered a fumble by Bush at the Bruins 14 with 53 seconds left, butJason Leach intercepted Olson on the next play.