No. 5 Trojans Roll Over Notre Dame In South Bend 45-14
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Matt Leinart threw for 351 yards and four touchdownsas No. 5 USC overpowered Notre Dame 45-14 Saturday for its second straight routof the Fighting Irish.
Last year, the Trojans beat the Irish 44-13 and knocked Notre Dame out ofcontention for a Bowl Championship Series game. This time, USC (6-1) remainedin the national title race, while the Irish (2-4) are in danger of a losingseason.
The Trojans rolled up 551 yards in beating the Irish on the road for justthe second time since 1983.
Led by Leinart, who replaced Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer thisseason, Southern California scored on four of its first five possessions ingetting off to its best start since 1995.
Keary Colbert, Mike Williams, Hershel Dennis and Gregg Guenther Jr. caughtTD passes, and Dennis and Reggie Bush ran for TDs. Ryan Killeen added a 29-yardfield goal.
After each team scored on its first possession, USC scored 31 straightpoints against an Irish defense looking to avenge last year's poor effort whenthey allowed 610 yards.
Like Palmer, who passed for 425 yards against the Irish last year, Leinartdominated. He was 16 of 20 for 229 yards with the TD passes in the first half.
Leinart came out throwing, completing 10 of 13 for 142 yards in the firstquarter, which ended with USC ahead 21-14. Leinart finished 26 of 34 with nointerceptions.
Colbert caught eight passes for 120 yards on eight catches, and Williams hadnine catches for 112 yards.
The Trojans picked up where they left off in last year's game, driving 80yards on each of their first three drives. Leinart threw TD passes of 18 yardsto Colbert and 7 yards to Williams before Bush ran 58 yards for another score.
USC went ahead 28-14 on Leinart's 3-yard TD pass to Dennis, and added a TDon the first possession of the second half - Leinart's 7-yard TD pass toGuenther.
The Irish, who had just 109 yards total offense against USC a year ago,finished with 279 yards Saturday. Julius Jones scored on a 22-yard run andAnthony Fasano scored on a 2-yard pass from Brady Quinn, who was 15 of 34.
The 45 points were the second-most for the Trojans against the Irish, off totheir worst start since 1997.
By TOM COYNE
AP Sports Writer