No. 1 Trojans stay perfect

Auburn, Oklahoma finish unbeaten to mess with BCS

Posted: Sunday, December 05, 2004


  University of Southern California's Reggie Bush flips into the the end zone for a touchdown against UCLA in the first half, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2004, in Pasadena, Calif. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

University of Southern California's Reggie Bush flips into the the end zone for a touchdown against UCLA in the first half, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2004, in Pasadena, Calif.

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

LOS ANGELES Southern California has reached all its goals to this point. Although they were pushed by crosstown rival UCLA, the Trojans made sure they'll get a shot at the one that remains.

Reggie Bush had two long touchdown runs, Ryan Killeen kicked five field goals and No. 1 USC held off the Bruins 29-24 Saturday to virtually lock up an Orange Bowl bid to play for the Bowl Championship Series title.

''They started No. 1 and finished No. 1,'' said Keith Tribble, the chief executive officer of the Orange Bowl. ''It's not official, but you can draw the conclusions. It's 99.9 percent certain for them. USC knows how to finish. It's the sign of a champion.''

Moments after the game, USC fans in both end zones tossed oranges on the field as the Trojans celebrated. Bush climbed the band director's ladder near the south end zone, waved a Trojan sword and held a sign reading, ''No. 1, Trojans Orange Bowl-bound.''

It wasn't USC's best performance and Heisman Trophy contender Matt Leinart was held in check but it should be enough.

The final BCS standings and bowl pairings will be announced Sunday. As Tribble pointed out, the Trojans (12-0, 8-0 Pac-10) have been ranked No. 1 all season in both The Associated Press Top 25 and coaches polls and, most importantly, the BCS standings.

''I don't see how they couldn't take us,'' Leinart said. ''We're in great position, and I think they'd be crazy to keep us out.''

USC was left out last winter, when it finished atop both polls after the regular season but was third in the final BCS standings. The Trojans won the AP national championship and LSU beat Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl to win the BCS title.

''We'll find out tomorrow,'' USC coach Pete Carroll said. ''We've done everything we could do, regardless of how it turns out. Going wire to wire is challenging.

''Whether it's the Orange Bowl or not, I don't know. I don't really care. I just enjoyed today.''

The Trojans completed the fifth perfect regular season in school history and first since 1972, when they won the national championship. It also was USC's 15th straight Pac-10 triumph and 21st consecutive win overall. The Trojans have won 32 of their last 33 games.

Bush gained a career-high 204 yards on 15 carries most on a 65-yard touchdown run on the game's second play and an 81-yard dash midway through the second quarter.

It was just the second game in which the explosive sophomore has rushed for more than 100 yards. He also had six receptions for 73 yards.

''I think I might have shaken up the votes a little bit,'' he said, referring to the Heisman balloting.

Bush's candidacy seemed to dwindle in recent weeks, mainly because he doesn't have the numbers of the other leading contenders such as Leinart.

The junior left-hander completed his first 10 passes for 64 yards. He wound up 24-of-34 for 242 yards with one interception and no touchdowns the first time in 25 career starts he has failed to throw at least one TD pass. USC is 24-1 in his starts.

''(Bush) was huge returning the ball, running the ball and catching the ball,'' Leinart said. ''We weren't able to put a lot of points up, they did a good job defensively, but we have so many weapons.''

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 in the series, which they lead 40-27-7.

''I'm disappointed about today, but I'm excited about our future,'' second-year UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. ''It wasn't our best effort. But you know what? I'll take it against the best team in the country.''

Drew Olson completed 20 of 34 passes for 278 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions for UCLA (6-5, 4-4), which will play in the Insight Bowl or the Las Vegas Bowl. The Bruins were limited to 17 yards on 25 rushes.

''This effort did not make our season. If we had won, it would have,'' UCLA receiver Tab Perry.

No. 2 Oklahoma 42, Colorado 3

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Jason White threw for three touchdowns and Adrian Peterson ran for three more to pace the Sooners in the Big 12 title game.

Barring a sudden change in the BCS, Oklahoma (12-0) will play No. 1 Southern Cal for its eighth national title Jan. 4 in the Orange Bowl.

White finished with 254 yards and threw all his touchdowns during the first 15:07. Two went to Mark Clayton, who made a sweet, reaching, fingertip catch on the second for a 21-0 lead. Clayton finished with eight catches for 108 yards.

Peterson surpassed the century mark in the second quarter for his 11th 100-yard rushing game, an NCAA record for a freshman. He finished with 172 yards and saved the best for last breaking six tackles for a darting, spinning 32-yard score and a 42-3 lead.

Colorado (7-5) didn't get a first down without the aid of a penalty until the 9:35 mark of the third quarter.

No. 3 Auburn 38, No. 15 Tennessee 28

ATLANTA Jason Campbell threw for three touchdowns and accounted for more than 400 yards, leading the Tigers to a 38-28 victory in the SEC championship game.

Campbell did all he could to get the Tigers to the Orange Bowl, but Auburn will probably have to settle for the Sugar Bowl. He completed 27-of-35 for 374 yards the first 300-yard passing game of his career. He also rushed for 57 yards, setting an SEC championship game record with 431 yards total offense.

Tennessee (9-3) rallied to tie the game at 21 on Gerald Riggs Jr.'s 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Then, Tennessee pulled to 31-28 with just over 10 minutes remaining when Riggs rumbled for a 9-yard TD.

Campbell would not be denied. He finished off the Volunteers with his final touchdown, a 43-yard pass to Ben Obomanu with 6:56 remaining.

Riggs gained 182 yards on just 11 carries for Tennessee, the first runner in 17 games to surpass 100 yards against the fearsome Auburn defense.

No. 4 California 26, Southern Miss. 16

HATTIESBURG, Miss. J.J. Arrington ran for 261 yards, Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and the Golden Bears scored on a bizarre special-teams play in their win over Southern Mississippi.

Arrington, the nation's fourth-leading rusher, surpassed the 100-yard mark for the school-record 11th straight game for California (10-1), which learns Sunday if the closer-than-expected victory will result in its first Rose Bowl bid since 1959.

Rodgers was 15-for-28 for 223 yards for Cal, which had 546 total yards and finished with 10 regular-season wins for the first time since 1949.

Southern Miss, a 24-point underdog, pulled to 17-16 on Dustin Almond's 1-yard touchdown run with 5:56 to play.

But Darren McCaleb's potential game-tying extra-point attempt was blocked by Thomas DeCoud. Wendell Hunter returned it 85 yards for two points, giving Cal a 19-16 lead.

Almond threw for a career-high 304 yards on 17-of-37 passing for Southern Miss (6-5), which plays North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 14.

No. 10 Virginia Tech 16, No. 9 Miami 10

MIAMI Virginia Tech capped its inaugural Atlantic Coast Conference season with a championship, getting two touchdown passes from Bryan Randall and holding Miami's high-powered offense to 190 yards.

Eddie Royal caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Randall with 11:29 remaining, putting No. 10 Virginia Tech (10-2, 7-1) ahead to stay.

Virginia Tech will learn Sunday to which BCS bowl it's headed; the probable choice is the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3. Miami (8-3, 5-3) which was the only team to play in the BCS each of the past four seasons, and would have extended that streak with a win Saturday will play Florida in the Peach Bowl on New Year's Eve.

Miami quarterback Brock Berlin completed 16 of 31 passes for 139 yards 98 off his season overage. And the Hurricanes managed only 51 yards rushing on 22 attempts.

Randall completed 11 of 18 passes for 148 yards, and Cedric Humes added 110 rushing yards for the Hokies, who were picked to finish sixth in the ACC before the season and won their final eight games to cap a surprising title run.

No. 7 Louisville 55, Tulane 7

NEW ORLEANS Stefan LeFors, who played high school ball in nearby Baton Rouge, threw for one touchdown and ran for another to lead Louisville to its fifth straight game of at least 55 points.

The nation's top-rated passer completed 19 of 27 for 247 yards before leaving the game late in the third quarter.

The Cardinals (10-1, 8-0 Conference USA), ranked first nationally in scoring, were averaging nearly 50 points a game.

Freshman Louisville kicker Art Carmody broke the NCAA record for consecutive PATs. He kicked seven, giving him 72, breaking the old mark set by Bart Edmiston of Florida in 1995.

Louisville had already clinched the conference regular-season title and a spot in the Liberty Bowl. Tulane (5-6, 3-4) had won three straight, and was hoping for an upset and a shot at a bowl game.

No. 19 Pittsburgh 43, South Florida 14

TAMPA, Fla. Tyler Palko threw for a career-high 411 yards and five touchdowns and the Panthers virtually assured themselves the Big East's spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

Greg Lee scored on receptions of 18, 6 and 7 yards for Pitt (8-3), while Malcolm Postell returned one of his two interceptions 15 yards for a TD that gave his team a 13-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.

Palko completed 19 of 28 passes and finished his afternoon in the third quarter by throwing for two scores in the last 1:27 of the third quarter.

The victory was the sixth in seven games for Pitt, which hardly resembled a BCS team in stumbling to 2-2 start that included an overtime victory over Division I-AA Furman and a 12-point loss at Connecticut.

The Panthers also avenged an embarrassing loss to South Florida (4-7), which won the only other meeting between the schools in the Bulls' second game as a Division I-A program three years ago.

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